The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) continues to maintain silence on its stand about bills submitted by opposition in the Assembly seeking end to Dogra-era law banning cow slaughter and sale of beef in Jammu and Kashmir.
The PDP's ally in the Government—the Bharatiya Janata Party—has already made its stand clear that it will not allow discussion on bills and "resort to violence" if the House allows discussion on revocation of the controversial beef ban.
Asked about party's stand on the bills, PDP's General Secretary Nizam-ud-Din Bhat failed to give a clear answer. "The issue has come up after the High Court ruling that upheld the ban. It has unfortunately triggered reaction on religious lines which has a danger to divide the society. Now the issue has been taken to Assembly and sense of the House will be known in due course," he said.
Party spokesman Mehboob Beg too reacted cautiously to the issue that has snowballed into a major controversy.
"No doubt we are Muslim majority state but we are living in modern times. It is a sensitive issue and all political parties should act responsibly," he told Greater Kashmir.
On Wednesday, three NC lawmakers submitted a bill in the House seeking repeal of Ranbir Penal Code provisions criminalizing bovine slaughter in the State. The autumn session of the State Legislature would start on October 3.
MLA Langate Er. Rashid and CPI (M) state secretary and MLA Kulgam Muhammad Yusuf Tarigami have also submitted separate bills on similar lines.
To counter the opposition, BJP legislator, Ravinder Raina, has submitted a resolution in the Assembly demanding capital punishment for those found slaughtering bovines.
"Those who are found guilty should be awarded capital punishment," his resolution reads.
Jammu and Kashmir is the first state where cow slaughter and sale of beef is prohibited since 1896 under laws passed by then Dogra Maharaja of the state. The law was adopted by State Constituent Assembly after 1947 with amendments in the penalty.
The September 9 High Court direction calling for implementation of the existing ban on sale of beef has already evoked sharp reaction from separatists, mainstream parties and religious organizations.
Separatists have asked people in Kashmir to sacrifice bovines on Edi-ul-Adha to defy the ban.
Meanwhile, Speaker Legislative Assembly Kavinder Gupta Sunday said he won't allow those bills and resolutions in the House "which have the potential to vitiate atmosphere in the State."
"I will not allow any bill or resolution which can create controversy and disturb peaceful atmosphere in the State," Gupta told Greater Kashmir. "Things which can deteriorate law and order situation in the state won't be allowed as part of proceedings of the House."
Gupta is the legislator from BJP, which formed the government in J&K for the first time, in coalition with PDP.
Reacting to Speaker's stand, PDP spokesman Beg said it was the prerogative of the Speaker to allow or not to allow discussion on any issue.
"We should also see whether we should take legal recourse on such an issue or try to resolve it through consensus," he said.
Earlier, Beg told news agency PTI that the beef ban was a sensitive issue connected with the "religious beliefs" of the people.
"It is a very sensitive issue, which is directly connected with our religious beliefs. Rather than doing politics over it or taking other routes—legal or constitutional—there is a need to talk to each other and try to build a consensus," he told PTI.
"NC's move is politicking. NC is an old political party and they should behave responsibly. My appeal to all political parties is that this is not an election time and let us not do politics over such sensitive issues. Let us sort it out amicably," he said.
He, however, refused to say anything on whether the PDP would support or oppose any bill, either by the NC or by any private member, which seeks decriminalising the slaughter of bovine animals in the state.