Kashmiri authorities ban animal sacrifices on Muslim holidays
SRINAGAR, India (AP) – Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir have banned the sacrifice of animals during the upcoming Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, in a move that is likely to further fuel anti-Indian anger in the contested region with a Muslim majority.
An order issued Thursday said “illegal slaughter / sacrifice of cows / calves, camels and other animals” must be stopped, citing animal welfare laws.
It is not known why the government issued a near total ban on animal sacrifices. Typically, cows are considered sacred in predominantly Hindu India, and slaughtering them or eating beef is illegal or restricted in much of the country. Despite the ban on the slaughter of cows in Kashmir, beef is widely available in most predominantly Muslim regions.
Muslims traditionally mark Eid al-Adha, or feast of sacrifice, by offering special prayers and slaughtering livestock, usually a goat, sheep, cow or camel, to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s test of faith. . The meat of sacrificed animals is shared between family and friends and the poor who cannot afford to sacrifice animals.
This year’s Muslim holiday falls from July 21 to 23 in the region.
Sentiment against Indian rule runs deep in Kashmir, where many Muslim residents seek independence or unification with Pakistan, which controls the other part of the region. The two nuclear-weapon rivals claim the territory in its entirety.
Muslims in Kashmir fear that India’s populist Hindu government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has started to change Kashmir’s demographics and identity after removing semi-autonomy from the region in 2019.
Since Modi took power in 2014, India has seen a series of mob attacks against minority groups. Most have involved so-called cow watchers Hindu extremist groups. They have typically targeted Muslims, who make up 14% of India’s nearly 1.4 billion people. Hindus make up around 80% of the population.
The victims were charged with either smuggling cows for slaughter or transporting beef. At least two dozen people have died in such attacks.