In a letter to the state government ahead of Bakrid, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) — a body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests — has asked the former to ensure that slaughtering of animals takes place only at licensed slaughter-houses but more importantly no camels and cows are slaughtered during the festival.
Enforcement of these guidelines set by the AWBI, however, will be a difficult task for the state administration as religious sentiments are involved, which is made clear by several clerics, who, while unequivocally terming the restriction on cow slaughter as “justified as the animal is considered sacred by Hindus”, roundly objected to similar restrictions on camel.
“We advise Muslims not to sacrifice cow as it is considered holy by Hindus. We have never heard of any such restriction on camels, though,” Ashraf Usmani, press secretary of Darul Uloom Deoband, told The Indian Express.
Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan, who confirmed receiving the letter from AWBI, assured to take steps. “Yes, we have received a letter and it has been sent to the Home Department for compliance. Everything will be done as per law,” he said.
The letter, significantly, also asks for action against anyone who violates Transport of Animals Rules, The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and PCA (Slaughter House) Rules on the occasion of Bakrid.
Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, suggested a way out, saying there are options of sacrificing goats and buffaloes. “When there are options available, it is better to avoid anything that creates tension. Sacrifices in open, which is objected by non-Muslims, should be avoided and slaughter-houses should be preferred. Muslims have, however, religious freedom to sacrifice animals,” he told The Indian Express.
Others insist that the condition cannot apply to camels. Imam, Aishbagh Eidgah, Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahli said sacrifice of cows is avoided as religious sentiments of Hindus are attached. “(But) there is no such restriction on camels. It is done and is the religious right of Muslims. Any such move is a direct interference in Muslims’ religious practices,” he said.
But the AWBI letter completely differs from the clerics’ views and says that “camels cannot be slaughtered for food at all based on the directions issued by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare”.