The issue of beef ban in Jammu and Kashmir took an emotive turn between the lawmakers in the state as the legislative assembly witnessed heightened drama on Thursday morning. Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid was thrashed by some BJP legislators inside the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly for throwing a beef party. The incident triggered uproar inside Assembly with opposition members staging a walkout.
The manhandling of Mr. Rashid, who had thrown a beef party at the MLA hostel here yesterday, came on a day the Assembly is scheduled to take up a bill on the ban on the meat. As BJP MLAs assaulted him, several NC and Congress MLAs rushed to save him.
“What happened today is impossible to digest. An honourable member being assaulted in the House. It seems that they wanted to murder him (Rashid). If he had done anything that was objectionable that should have been put on record,” former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said strongly condemning the incident.
“We don’t force our religion on you. My religion prohibits consumption of alcohol and pork… Do I assault everyone who eats pork or alcohol,” Mr. Abdullah said demanding that the Chief Minister makes a statement on the issue.
Soon after the series of Opposition criticism, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed condemned the incident saying that the sentiments should be kept under check.
“I condemn this incident. The House has good tradition….sentiments should be kept under control. I ask Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh to apologise for the misconduct of his party MLAs,” Chief Minister said referring to his alliance partner BJP.
Deputy CM Nirmal Singh, on his part said, “We do not approve of what happened in the Assembly today. But what happened in the MLAs hostel yesterday was also wrong.”
The Deputy Chief Minister, however, stopped short of apologising for the incident.
Sheikh Abdul Rashid, the legislator from Langate, had on Wednesday hosted a beef party in the lawns of MLA hostel in Srinagar. Defending his move, Mr. Rashid had claimed that he did not want to offend anyone but wanted to send a message that “no court or legislature can prevent the people from eating what they want”.
The beef row erupted after the Jammu bench of J&K High Court directed the state government to strictly implement the ban in the state as per the law. But the matter reached Supreme Court after the High Court’s Srinagar bench had agreed to hear a separate plea seeking scrapping of the provision that bars slaughter of bovine animals.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court temporarily suspended the High Court’s order enforcing the ban on the sale of beef in Jammu and Kashmir. The Mufti Sayeed government had last week moved apex court after two conflicting orders from the High Court.
(With inputs from the PTI/Agencies)