In our prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Friday night, India TV telecasted news relating to seizure of cattle by police in the states of Gujarat, Odisha, Maharashtra and Telangana. Hundreds of cows were being taken for slaughter by smugglers in pick-up trucks and containers, on the eve of Bakrid festival due next week. The most objectionable part of these seizures was that the smugglers had packed the cows inhumanly inside their vehicles. On recovery, many of the cows were semi-conscious and were found struggling for breath.
In Odisha’s Baleswar district on Thursday, 77 cows were found packed inside 8 pick-up trucks. In one of the pick-up trucks, 20 cows were squeezed inside a small space, with several of them lying on the floor. Eleven smugglers were arrested. The accused told police that they were transporting the cows in view of the forthcoming slaughter during Bakrid.
In Gujarat, local police with the help of NGOs, seized cows in Vadodara, Bharuch and Valsad. Cows were kept inside a container in Bharuch, and they were seized with the help of volunteers from Jeev Daya Foundation. Police had to give a long chase to stop the driver, who was trying to escape with the container on the highway. In Valsad, local cow protection squad helped police in nabbing smugglers transporting five cows and a calf for slaughter in Maharashtra.
In Amrawati, Maharashtra, local Bajrang Dal volunteers had barricaded a road as they had a prior report of a pick-up truck transporting 12 cows. The driver, Rehaan, slammed the truck on the road divider in a bid to escape but was overpowered. On July 22, Amrawati rural police seized a truck carrying 12 cows near the MP border and arrested two persons. The cows were being taken to Nagpur for slaughter. More than 200 cows have been saved from slaughter in Amrawati district during the last two weeks.
In Karimnagar district of Telangana, the local district collector and police commissioner have circulated audio clips in which a Maulana is appealing to Muslims not to slaughter cows during Bakrid, as it was a crime in the eyes of law. The Maulana told Muslims to respect the sentiments of the Hindu community.
The Maharashtra government has issued guidelines to the Muslim community to offer namaaz prayers at home during Bakrid in view of the ban on religious gatherings. The state government has advised Muslims to buy goats online as gatherings at animal markets have been prohibited. The state government has also appealed to Muslims to offer ‘symbolic sacrifice’ during Bakrid. However, Congress minister Naseem Khan has objected to these guidelines describing it as interference in religious matters of minorities. Maulana Syed Noori, vice-president of Raza Academy, has said that Muslims will offer animal sacrifice in their respective localities. He also questioned the online sale of animals for sacrifice.
In our Constitution, laws relating to cows can be enacted only by state legislatures. So far, 20 states have enacted stringent laws against cow slaughter, while in eight states, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura, there are no restrictions on cow slaughter.
During the last four years, there have been strict enforcement of anti-slaughter laws in most of the states and cow slaughter has been effectively stopped. The recent surge in seizures of cattle meant for slaughter is an issue of grave concern. Law enforcement agencies must keep constant vigil to prevent cow slaughter during Bakrid. Maulanas from Muslim community have already appealed to their followers not to offer cow as a sacrifice in deference to the religious sentiments of Hindus.
The need of the hour is to maintain communal peace. However, there are nefarious elements who are trying to disturb the peace by carrying out cow slaughter during Bakrid on the sly. Their efforts must be nipped in the bud. The common argument being given is that since goat meat is costly, and since there are hundreds of farmers willing to sell off cows that have stopped giving milk, the slaughter of cows must be allowed. Some politicians with vested interests in Mumbai, Bhopal and Hyderabad are trying to incite the feelings of their community by demanding animal sacrifice in the open and holding namaaz congregations in mosques.
However, there are several top Maulanas who agree that the current COVID pandemic has caused an extraordinary situation, and the Muslim community should be prepared to take extraordinary steps, like offering namaaz in homes and performing symbolic animal sacrifice. Muslims had observed Bakrid last year, they will observe next year too, but this year, because of the pandemic, they should stick to social distancing norms and avoid big public gatherings.
Already, the annual Amarnath Yatra has been called off in Jammu and Kashmir because of the pandemic. The annual Haj pilgrimage was also called off because of COVID pandemic. Those leaders who are giving call to Muslims to offer animal sacrifice in public and attend big namaaz congregations are doing injustice to their own community.
The dreaded Coronavirus does not differentiate between a Hindu or a Muslim or a Sikh, or a Christian. The Muslim community, in its own interest, should avoid big namaaz congregation during Bakrid.
My advice: Protect your life first. If you can do this, you will always get an opportunity to celebrate Bakrid normally next year. But if you opt for big gatherings, then you will be putting your family members and relatives at risk.
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India’s Number One and the most followed Super Prime Time News Show ‘Aaj Ki Baat – Rajat Sharma Ke Saath was launched just before the 2014 General Elections. Since its inception, the show is redefining India’s super-prime time and is numerically far ahead of its contemporaries.