The ban on beef, which is turning into a controversy in the state, has been in law books and on paper in the post-Independence era. The issue did not come to the fore in the past nearly seven decades.
The Valley which has a majority Muslim population has been consuming beef since the Muslim rulers took over 600 years ago.
Historians believe that Srinagar had established beef markets, which later spread out to rural areas of the Valley.
With the advent of the Sikh rule followed by the Dogra rule in the early 19th century, sale and possession of beef was banned. The ban was enacted in 1862 during Dogra ruler Maharaja Ranbir Singh’s regime. Subsequently, the sale of beef was regarded as “something forbidden”, said Prof Mohammad Ashraf Wani.
He added that with the passage of time, the sale and possession of beef stopped in Srinagar, but continued elsewhere in the Valley.
“The ban (prohibition) on beef was in law books and only on paper and not in practice,” Wani said.
In the last 25 years, beef has been sold in market places in Srinagar city. The timing of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court directive on beef ban is being viewed both by the majority Muslim population of Kashmir and the separatists as “politically motivated” at the behest of the right-wing BJP.
The move may continue to keep Kashmir on the boil.
Sections 298 A and 298 B of the RPC deal with the ban on sale and possession of beef in the state, where both the IPC and the RPC are applicable due to the special status. Under Section 298 A, cow slaughter is a cognisable non-bailable offence, punishable with imprisonment of 10 years and a fine, while Section 298 B deals with the possession of beef and is punishable with one-year imprisonment and a fine.