Bovine Lunacy: The Cupidity of Power or the Politics of Myopia?

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KO Analysis

Amidst the melee surrounding the issue of the High Court imposed ban on killing and consumption of bovines in JK, an important point seems to have been lost. This point pertains to the observation that the Government of India (GoI) does not appear to have a Kashmir policy. Or, perhaps more accurately, the GoI’s Kashmir policy revolves around merely containing and managing the conflict. This is a point or a theme that has been dwelt upon by the newspaper but it acquires fresh saliency and poignancy amidst the bovine ban. This assertions warrants some context and perspective.

In the final analysis, people are sentient creatures and their sentiments and feelings matter. The emotional matrix and universe of Kashmiris is determined by a mosaic of factors with religion and culture predominant amongst them. Such is the importance and salience of these factors that militancy and insurgency was largely determined by the interplay of these.  While the state squelched the insurgency, the underlying sentiment remains. Kashmiris are still motivated and animated by these emotions; so the state has essentially, by containing insurgency, merely dealt with the outward manifestations of a broader and a wider issue. Enter the beef ban here. The re-introduction of the beef ban brings back to the collective memory of Kashmiris the autocratic and authoritarian rule of the Maharaja( incidentally a Hindu ruler), and it meshes with the memory of the state’s counter insurgency approach. In both instances, the Indian state gets implicated. This is rendered more poignant  given that the country is now ruled by a far right, Hindu right wing party, the BJP. The collation of the past, present and the future in the minds of Kashmiris lends itself to the view that Kashmir is under the putative assault of ‘Hindu hegemony’. This can only have negative and insalubrious consequences- both in the short and long term.

In a curious but related development, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) Friday told the Bombay High Court that it has decided to withdraw its decision to ban slaughter and sale of meat in the city for two days during

Jain festival ‘Paryushan’. MCGM informed the court of its decision during the hearing of a petition filed by meat seller’s challenging the four-day ban on meat sales, which included two-day ban by the state

government. The circular was withdrawn in view of public interest.

There is a parallel in operation here but the implication is that when it comes to Kashmir, a different set of rules and even laws are in operation.  Under pressure from protests, the ban was withdrawn by the Mumbai civic body but in Kashmir the same issue has a different hue and color. Here, even the state’s major political party is conspicuous for its silence on the issue. While some party minions and low level apparatchiks have made what essentially amounts to noise, the party’s leadership has maintained a stoic silence. The inference that can be drawn is that the party neither wants to offend its coalitional partner, the BJP, nor wants to plead a case that pertains to the wishes and sentiments of Kashmiris. In another interpretation, the state appears to be complicit in the whole controversy. The officer against whose PIL the High Court has swung  into action is a law officer to the state and moreover, the government has till now neither offered a contrapuntal nor issued declamatory statements to the effect.

Now returning to the bovine ban issue, If incidents of this nature are repeated and attain critical mass, a chain reaction will set in the collective Kashmiri psyche. This will lead to spiral of conflict and escalation of conflict. Kashmir will then revert to square one. The baton of conflict will then be passed on to a new generation of Kashmiris. Prudence and sobriety then warrants that Kashmiri sentiments and feelings be respected all for the sake of peace , amity and concord within and without.

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