According to Times of India, the ruling comes in a year when several states have banned beef trade and cow slaughter, stoking an ever-swirling debate with several right-wing organisations supporting these moves while many minority groups and activists have termed such decisions a blow to personal freedom and India’s secular fabric.
Experts say the high court order is a reiteration of a section of the 1932 Ranbir Penal Code that is applicable in J&K, which says slaughter of cows and “like animals” is punishable with up to 10 years of imprisonment as well as a financial penalty.
A division bench instructed the director general of police to order top police officials of all districts and police stations to ensure there is no sale of beef in the state and stringent action is taken against violators.
Soon after the high court order some J&K separatist groups, including Yasin Malik’s Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, called for a shutdown in the Valley on Saturday to protest the ban.
“Although consumption of beef is less in Kashmir, there are some areas where it’s consumed daily. So I see no reason why this practice should not continue,” said moderate Hurriyat leader and the Valley’s head cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. “It’s nothing but a political gimmick.”
“The majority community in the state has never opposed the ban due to a sense of respect for Hindus. This despite the fact that it’s an intrusion on a person’s fundamental right,” said senior lawyer GN Shaheen.
The BJP, which rules the state in coalition with the PDP, welcomed the court’s decision saying the party had always opposed the killing of bovine animals like cows and was vigorously pursuing the ban.