Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir law commission has recommended that the government re-enact the beef ban for the newly named Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, arguing that the prohibition on slaughter of cow and other animals “enabled the state to protect and improve its environment”.
Under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act that bifurcated the state on August 5, the 157-year old beef ban was one of the 153 state laws repealed by government of India.
In its report submitted to the state chief secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam, the law commission headed by retired justice M.K. Hanjura, has referred to the repealed sections between 298-A and 298-D of the state’s Ranbir Penal Code (RPC), which dealt with beef ban.
It has recommended that the prohibition on slaughter of cows and other animals should be adopted in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), for its re-enactment in the newly created Union Territories.
“This repealing has the effect of wiping off sections 298-A, 298-B, 298-C and 298-D from the text of the state Ranbir Penal Code,” reads the report, a copy of which is with The Wire.
Under Section 298-A of the RPC, voluntarily slaughtering or killing any bovine animal, whether domestic or wild, such as an ox, bull, cow or calf was punishable with imprisonment up to 10 years and liable with fine.
The Section 298-B dealt with punishment for possession of flesh of killed or slaughtered animals.
Under Section 298-C, killing or slaughtering a “he or she buffalo” was punishable with fine up to five times the price of the animal killed or slaughtered as determined by the court.
“The object of incorporating these sections in the RPC was to protect religious sentiments of all the sections of society living in length and breadth of Jammu and Kashmir that comprised Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Buddhists,” the Commission says in its report.
Despite being a Muslim majority state with a nearly 69% Muslim population, beef consumption was banned in J&K until August 5 this year. The prohibition law had been enacted by Dogra ruler Maharaja Ranbir Singh in 1862. Since then, the law has been in force.
Though there is no provision for a beef or cow slaughter ban in Indian Penal Code (IPC), various states have individually implemented it.
“The bond of love and affection between different communities and [the] overall effect of Sufism that had dug its roots deep into society and had dominated the state, particularly Kashmir, for centuries together were immense. As a sequel to which sentimental issues that had a bearing on different religions in a multi-religious society like J&K were mutually respected and regarded..,” reads the report.
“The ban on cow slaughter and other animals as enumerated in the (RPC) sections which stand repealed enabled the state to protect and improve environment of the state,” it adds.
In 2015, Kashmir erupted in protests after the state high court directed the then government to strictly implement the beef ban across the state following a petition filed by a Jammu-based lawyer. The direction from the court was seen as “interference in religious rights of Muslims”.
Beef is widely consumed in Kashmir and in the Muslim belts of Jammu and Ladakh. Most of the cattle are imported from Jammu, Punjab, Himachal and Delhi.
Talking to The Wire, Hanjura said the provisions (for the beef ban) existed in the RPC but refused to elaborate on the matter citing that it was a telephone conversation, and asked the reporter to discuss it at his office.