Consensus Eludes Parties On Anti-beef Ban Bill

19 September 2015
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Amir Karim Tantray

Srinagar: There seems to be no consensuses among various political parties in J&K over the anti-beef ban Bill, submitted in the Legislative Assembly secretariat on Wednesday by the main opposition party, National Conference (NC). The Bill seeks omission of Sections 298-A, 298-B, 298-C and 298-D of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) to nullify the ban. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), running the coalition government in the state along with the BJP, has been caught in a difficult situation ever since the Bill was submitted. In case the PDP allows the Bill to pass in the lower house, it fears its ties with coalition partner BJP would be affected. And if it supports the BJP on allowing the beef ban, the PDP runs the risk of losing its constituency in Kashmir valley. The PDP, as such, wants consensus to be developed before taking any further step. 'Bringing any such Bill may not serve the purpose. J&K is a Muslim-majority state, but the sentiments of other religions too have to be respected,' said Mehboob Beig, PDP chief spokesperson. Apart from the PDP, the other three main political parties in the state have made their stand clear. The BJP, a pro-Hindu outfit that follows the Hindutva agenda of its parent organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, has decided to oppose any move to revoke the beef ban. Jugal Kishore Sharma, BJP state president and Lok Sabha MP from Jammu, said, 'Cow is sacred for the Hindus. We will not allow anyone to hurt our religious sentiments by scrapping the law. In fact, the law should be implemented in letter and spirit.' The NC, on the other hand, wants the law to be scrapped. 'In a democracy, nobody should be allowed to interfere in the religious matters of any community. We have moved a Bill and hope other parties will support us,' said Junaid Mattoo, NC spokesperson. Announcing support for slaughtering of bovines during the upcoming Eid, Mattoo said, 'If action is taken against anyone slaughtering bovine animals during the festival, the NC will support them politically, legally and whatever way we can.' The beef ban does not seem to be a priority for the Congress. 'There are several major issues such as rehabilitation of flood victims and unemployment that need to be addressed first. Support to the Bill in the Assembly will depend on the secular character of our party,' said Ghulam Ahmed Mir, Pradesh Congress Committee president. Mir said as the Congress did not have the numbers in the House, it would be the prerogative of the PDP-BJP government to see the law through.