Hilarious but true: this year could easily be marked as ‘The Cow Year. First a brown cow applied for the CET exam surprising everyone by making front page news. Maybe she wanted to become a doctor! But on the day of exam she preferred to stay indoors (bunked exams).
The same cow almost entirely flipped fortunes of thousands of ReT teachers across the state, when a nervous teacher was asked to prove his worth by writing an essay on cow inside the courtroom. Unfortunately the said teacher failed to think beyond its tail! The incident got more airtime then all the politicians together in a single day. It shocked people across the state that how can a teacher, how is unable to write about an innocent creature like cow, do justice with students!
But the mother of all cow moments was when Jammu and Kashmir High Court, acting on a PIL, ordered complete ban on sale and consumption of beef in the state. The immediate reaction was something that shocked the state before bringing it to a complete halt for days together. There were incidents of cow slaughter reported from across the state, thus sending a clear signal that no interference in food habits will be tolerated.
If we go back in our history, it becomes clear that how cow has always been at the centre of controversy. The first ban on cow slaughter was imposed during Dogra rule. The slaughter of cow or sale of beef was punishable by death during those troubled times. Once the elected government took over, after the last autocratic Dogra ruler left Kashmir in the dead of night, cow was forgotten for a while. After a long and tyrannical Dogra rule Kashmiris were finally enjoying beef without fear of getting killed for it. But the freedom was short lived. In 1985, the then governor Jagmohan, order a complete ban on sale of mutton during Janmastami. The ban made local cleric Qazi Nisar slaughter goats at Lal Chowk, Islamabad in protest. The incident made Nisar an instant hero among helpless masses. He later joined the Muslim United Front (MUF) – the same political alliance that contested 1987 Assembly polls.
Experts believe, if not tackled properly, the beef-ban controversy could snowball into a major crisis. The general perception in Kashmir is that the present PDP government, which is ruling the state in alliance with BJP, is fiddling with people’s sentiments in order to appease hardcore Hindu nationalists. The ban is seen as a direct interference in people’s faith. As a mark of protest Kashmir observed a complete shutdown for an entire day. Interestingly according to 19th Livestock Census of India (2012), cows or other bovine animals are in no danger of extinction as posed by rightwing Hindutva group, RSS. The census shows that their numbers has increased by 7.16 percent to 216 million since 2007. It is the male of the species that is threatened, as the number of bulls has declined by 18.6 percent to 84 million in the same period.
But when it comes to Kashmir every sane argument gets trashed in the name of satisfying a nation’s collective conscience.
Yasir Altaf Zargar is a web security analyst acknowledged by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, and Nokia. He Tweets as @zargaryasir