Tit-for-tat: Miffed with beef ban, Muslims want liquor banned in Kashmir

Srinagar: The beef ban directive by Jammu and Kashmir High Court has spurred a tit-for-tat call to ban liquor, proscribed in Islam, in the state.

The demand came as the Valley shut down to protest the court order that asked the administration to enforce the decades-old but largely ignored ban on cattle slaughter and beef sale in the state.

Several political and religious groups argued that if beef-eating hurts the feelings of the state’s minority Hindus, so does drinking alcohol wound the majority Muslims’ sentiments.

The Karwan-e-Islami, a religious group that had in the past campaigned for a liquor ban, threatened to hit the streets to press its demand.

“If killing bovines hurts the sentiments of any community, so does sale and consumption of liquor hurt the sentiments of Muslims. Why should it not be banned in a state where Muslims are the majority?” said Karwan president Molvi Ghulam Rasool Hami.

Hami said Kashmiris overwhelmingly backed a liquor ban, citing how a signature campaign his group had launched against alcohol two years ago had found 4.5 lakh supporters.

“The government paid no heed to our campaign. We will hold rallies again and pressure the government into declaring Jammu and Kashmir a dry state,” Hami said.

Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rasheed, whose group slaughtered two cows on Thursday to defy the ban on beef, echoed him.

“I don’t think any religion permits liquor consumption, and our holy book, the Quran, explicitly bans it. The government should respect the sentiments of all the communities and ban it,” Rasheed said.

Liquor, like beef, is being increasingly consumed in the state.

Official figures show that around 542.63 lakh bottles of various kinds of liquor were sold in 2014-15, earning the state government Rs 465 crore in revenues. That was 22 lakh bottles, or Rs 26 crore in revenues, more than the preceding year.

Liquor is sold freely in Jammu, where most of the state’s alcohol consumption takes place. In Kashmir, liquor is available at just a few shops and clubs thanks to a militant “ban” imposed at the beginning of the insurgency.

BJP youth leader and MLA Ravinder Raina said one must not politicise that beef ban as the directive had come from the high court.

Raina found no harm in the call for a liquor ban, either. “Liquor is a health hazard and I support the call to ban it,” he said.

Restrictions were imposed in several parts of Srinagar today to prevent violence. Cattle had been slaughtered in public across Kashmir yesterday in protest against Thursday’s court ruling, which had come on a public interest plea moved in Jammu.

The Ranbir Penal Code banned beef under the Dogra rulers, when few Kashmiri Muslims ate beef anyway. The practice caught on gradually after 1947 and now beef is sold openly across the state although the ban hasn’t been revoked.

The Telegraph, Kolkata


Source: islamicnewsdaily

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