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Trouble in paradise?

There seems to be no end to the troubles brewing within the ruling coalition in Jammu and Kashmir. According to news reports, the beef ban in the state has created a sharp divide between the ruling coalition partners. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said that the prohibition cannot be accepted while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is pressing for strict implementation. The consumption of beef, according to the PDP, will continue to be allowed in the state notwithstanding the high court directive, which sought for the implementation of a ban. The BJP, however, has said that the sentiments of Hindus should be respected in the larger national interest without any provocation. 

“No one can suppress religious freedom. If something is ‘halal’ (allowed) in religion, why should there be a ban on it? The Supreme Court, in its recent judgment, has also said that meat ban cannot be forced down people’s throat. You cannot do this with the religious beliefs of the people,” PDP leader Peer Mansoor said. It is clear that both sides are pandering to their respective vote banks. For the PDP, it is the largely Muslim population in the Kashmir Valley they seek to appease. Meanwhile, the BJP seeks to appease the largely Hindu population in the Jammu region. What the beef ban issue has done is to accentuate further the already fractured relationship between the alliance partners. Suffice to say, the coalition government has been blighted by a lack of communication and ideological <g data-gr-id="34">syncretisation</g>. 

However, this is not the first time such a sharp difference has arisen between the two parties. This lack of communication between the two parties was further brought home by the controversy over the Centre’s proposed plan of separate townships for returning Kashmiri Pandits. In this regard, Mufti went on the Centre’s plan and said that such a plan was not feasible. The Common Minimum Programme set by both political outfits, which was supposed to address these divisive issues, clearly seems to have borne no fruit.  Provocations on both sides of the ideological and political divide continue to muddy the waters.  The reasons usually given for the imposition of such a ban is essentially based on the oft-used appeasement policy of “we must respect the feelings of all communities”. 

Politics notwithstanding, what this rationale fails to take into account is that no community has the right to impose its religious beliefs on other segments of society. Moreover, the ban will completely stop the sale of beef products. Instead, there will be a black market for beef products, and the government will subsequently lose out on essential tax revenue.
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