Ahead of Bakri Eid, government-agency launches campaign against animal sacrifice
The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has launched a campaign against animal sacrifice, less than a month ahead of Bakri Eid. "If anyone does animal sacrifice, that is punishable, no animal is exempted," said SP Gupta, Chairman, AWBI. In India, there's no blanket ban on animal sacrifice. But though the move is seemingly well-intentioned, some have claimed this is only a way to target Muslims.
In India, the controversial Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Rules 2017 banned the sale of cattle and camels for slaughter, including for religious purposes. But later, the clause on sacrifice was stayed by the SC, and eventually was replaced by regulations diluted by the environment ministry. If all conditions were strictly imposed, animal sacrifices would be ruled out, says Gupta.
However, there's no blanket ban. "There're criteria on how to kill animals, but no one follows." For example, under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Rules and food safety standards, animals must only be slaughtered at registered abattoirs, which is rarely the case in religious settings.
Some have slammed the move. "The context of this campaign is that it is directed at communities that have this as part of their tradition, especially the Muslim community," said Harsh Mander, director, Centre for Equity Studies. Mohammed Abdul Faheem Qureshi, president of the All India Jamiatul Quresh Action Committee, is also critical. "They are only concerned about cattle," he said.
The AWBI has now said it will send out volunteers to watch out for and report cases of cruelty to animals. "If the state government does not act on complaints, we will act. We will file complaints with law enforcement (authorities), and...file cases in court against the authorities," Gupta said. Bakri Eid, or Eid-al-Adha (festival of sacrifice), will be celebrated this time on August 21-22.