Despite Controversy Over Beef Ban, People Prefer Sacrifice Of Sheep

24 September 2015
The Tribune (Chandigarh)

Srinagar: Amid the controversy over beef ban, a majority of the people here are preferring sacrifice of sheep this Eid. People across the city were seen buying small animals for sacrifice at makeshift cattle markets on 'arafa', a day preceding Eid, putting to rest 'communal flare-up' as authorities had apprehended large-scale bovine slaughter on the festival. 'Since years, we have been offering sacrifice of animals on Eid. It is a part of religious obligation. Despite the row over beef ban, I purchased a sheep for sacrifice as it is easy to handle,' said Fayaz Ahmad, who was busy negotiating price with a wholesale dealer who had set up his cattle shop on a busy Srinagar street. 'I am not offering sacrifice this Eid on the insistence of anyone or in protest against any community. I am offering sacrifice to earn the benevolence of Allah, not in vengeance,' Fayaz replied when asked if he was heeding to calls of sacrificing bovines this Eid. While reiterating a 150-year-old penal law banning bovine slaughter and beef sale in J&K, the High Court had on September 9 asked the J&K Police to ensure 'strict compliance' of the 'existing law'. The court directions created resentment in Kashmir, with a meeting of ulemas and religious scholars earlier this week urging people to protest ban orders by sacrificing bovines on Eid. However on Thursday, Kashmir's senior separatist leader and hardline Hurriyat chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani made a passionate appeal to Kashmiri Muslims 'not to hurt sentiments of any sect' while offering sacrifice of animals on Eid-ul-Azha. 'The ban order has hurt the sentiments of Muslims in Kashmir. In a democratic and free world , there should be no compulsions to chose our food habits,' said Suhail Ahmad, who was also busy picking the best quality sheep at another makeshift cattle market in the Jahangir Chowk area of Srinagar. Despite controversy surrounding the beef ban, people like Suhail are making a conscious choice to sacrifice a sheep and not bovines on Eid. 'Sacrificing any animal is a matter of affordability also. I would have preferred a big animal for sacrifice as it would have earned me more rewards before Allah, but given the large scale and easy availability of small animals in market, I have chosen a sheep for sacrifice,' said Suhail. Suhail, however, said: 'The way Muslims in Kashmir are being asked to respect the sentiments of other communities this Eid, I also expect that the other side to respect my religious beliefs and feelings. Besides, nobody should get offended by what I eat as I don't care what others eat.' As per an estimate, over 30,000 animals, mainly sheep and goat, have been imported to the Valley for Eid. Besides, hundreds of people from villages in Kashmir flock to cattle markets in Srinagar and other major towns with thousands of sheep to fetch better prices.