Delhi: India has ordered a crackdown on the religious sacrifice of animals in Kashmir, appearing to invite tensions in the majority-Muslim region days before one of Islam’s biggest holidays.
Animal welfare officials released an order for the end of the “illegal killing or sacrifice of cows, calves, camels and other animals”.
The directive to the Indian-administered part of the disputed territory came less than a week before Muslims mark Eid ul-Adha by offering prayers and slaughtering livestock.
Religious leaders in the region condemned the order and residents predicted widespread protests.
Sentiment against Indian rule has run deep in the contested Himalayan region for decades. Many Muslims seek either independence or unification with Pakistan, which controls the other part of the region.
Tensions increased in 2019 when Delhi revoked the region’s semi-autonomy. Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, has been accused of trying to alter its demographics by increasing the proportion of Hindus. Elsewhere in India, his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party party has been accused of whipping up violence against minority groups.
“Delhi is interfering in our religion,” Bashir Ahmad Thoker, who lives in the northern Baramulla district of Kashmir, said. “Sacrificing animals is mandatory for Muslims on Eid, but Delhi wants to implement a Hindu nationalist agenda in Kashmir.”
Abdul Razaq, from Srinagar, said: “We would prefer to die defending our religion, rather than accept this diktat.”