Jammu and Kashmir is the only state with laws against cow slaughter and beef eating. Almost all the laws enacted during Maharaja's time in 1930s were subsequently adopted by the constituent assembly of the state. While with regard to penalty, amendments were made but the laws remained there including law against cow slaughter and beef eating.
However, no government tried to implement the law against cow slaughter except governor Jagmohan in 1980s and his zeal resulted in creating an alternative to the National Conference with the Muslim United Front standing against the NC in the 1987 Assembly elections. The elections were rigged and rest is, as they say, history.
Even though there was a law, there was no urge among Kashmiri Muslims, who along with Kashmiri Pandits are voracious meat eaters, to opt for beef.
In Srinagar, beef is culturally looked down upon. It is considered a taboo. Kashmir is known as the mutton capital of India with consumption of around 1,000 lakh kg/year and most of it comes from Rajasthan and Punjab. Beef consumption is very low. Historian says aversion to beef in the Valley dates back to the Muslim rulers and describe it as a hangover of Kashmir's Buddhist and Shaivist past.
During Dogra rule, a ban was imposed on cow slaughter and eating beef. Mridu Rai in her acclaimed book on Kashmir, Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects says "While the azaan was acknowledged to be crucial to Muslims, the banning of cow slaughter was deemed by non-Muslim rulers as critical to their own dharma and so also to their sovereignty relying on its protection."
So it is said Maharaja Ranbir Singh slit a woman's tongue for beating a cow which had torn some clothes she had hung out to dry. In Gulab Singh's time cow slaughter was punishable with life imprisonment.
Now under Section 298A of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC), any violator is liable to imprisonment of ten years and a fine. Under RPC, possession of such slaughtered animal is also an act punishable under Section 298B of the RPC. Its section 298B says possessing the flesh of such an animal is a cognisable, non-bailable offence punishable with imprisonment of one year and a fine.
But again there was a law but no one was bothered about its implementation. But the situation has altered after Jammu and Kashmir High Court directed the police to ensure that there is no sale of beef anywhere in the state and strict action be taken against those who indulge in it - it has brought the issue back into focus.
The court gave the judgment on a public interest litigation (PIL) that had contended that slaughtering and sale of bovine animals is rampant in some parts of the state which severely affected religious sentiments of a section of the society.
Soon after the court judgement, people on social media realised there was a law against eating beef and cow slaughter.
"High court order made me change my option of animal for sacrifice on Eid... Now we should sacrifice a cow and an ox in place of sheep or goat," reads a Facebook post.
Remember the 1980s? Qazi Nisar became a familiar name in 1984 when he slaughtered a cow in Lal Chowk in Anantnag in protest against the demand of a ban on cow slaughter in Jagmohan's tenure.