Jammu(PTI): The controversy over beef ban in Jammu and Kashmir has intensified with Mufti government shunting out Additional Advocate General Vishal Sharma apparently for “failing to defend” its stand before the High Court which had directed strict enforcement of a 1932 law against beef sale.
Law department Secretary Mohammad Ashraf Mir said Sharma has been transferred from Home Department to Education Department and it was a “normal” procedure. “Yes, he (Sharma) has been transferred. But it is a normal administrative procedure,” Mir told PTI.
Sources said the “Law Ministry yesterday ordered Sharma’s removal from Home Department and asked him to now to deal with cases of School Education and Rural Development departments in the High Court.”
They said the Law Ministry has taken strong note of Sharma’s “total failure” in defending government’s position in the High Court during the hearing on a petition seeking enforcement of a ban on sale and consumption of beef in the state. However, Mir said Sharma’s transfer had “nothing to do” with the beef ban case.
When contacted, Vishal Sharma said that he is yet to receive any communication from the government. Hearing the petition, Jammu and Kashmir High Court last week directed the police to ensure that there is no sale of beef anywhere in the state and that strict action is taken against those who violate the law in this regard. The sources claimed Sharma “had not informed the State Home Department as well as Divisional Commissioner Kashmir on filing of reply in the case”.
The judgement evoked widespread criticism in the state, with religious and separatist groups terming it as a “direct interference in religious affairs of Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir”. The opposition National Conference has also asked the PDP-BJP government to bring necessary amendments in law to allow sale of beef and cow slaughter in the the state ahead of Eid later this month.
Under section 298 A of Ranbir Penal Code 1932, killing or slaughtering of a cow or similar animal is a non-bailable offence which carries punishment of up to 10 years in imprisonment and fine. Under section 298B, possessing of meat of such an animal is a non-bailable offence punishable with imprisonment of one year and fine.