Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir BJP spokesperson Altaf Thakur Wednesday said that beef was not banned in the state and is “available anywhere in Kashmir”.
“You must have heard the honourable Prime Minister say it many times that there should no violence or lynchings in the name of beef and those who are doing this are enemies of the country,” Thakur said. “When we talk about Jammu and Kashmir, do you see a beef ban imposed here? You can get beef anywhere. There is no ban on beef.”
He was responding to a question on whether the beef ban, which is in place in the state, will be an issue that the party will play up ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Thakur further blamed the violence over beef on opposition parties. “It’s a political issue. Wherever there has been violence over the issue of beef, in those places opposition parties might be responsible for it,” he said. “The BJP is a ruling party and opposition can put the blame on us.”
Thakur’s comments are at odds with directions of the J&K High Court, which in 2015 directed state authorities to strictly enforce the 157-year-old ban on cow slaughter. Under Section 298A of the Ranbir Penal Code, applicable to J&K, intentionally killing or slaughtering a cow or similar animal (including ox and buffalo) is a cognisable, non-bailable offence punishable with 10 years imprisonment and fine.
BJP to focus on development in LS polls
The BJP leader is an elected sarpanch from the restive Tral region of south Kashmir and is likely to contest the assembly elections. He is now in charge of parliamentary elections in the North Kashmir constituency.
Thakur said that the BJP’s only agenda this election is to focus on development.
“The BJP flag is flying at every booth in Kashmir. It has become a mainstream party in the Valley as its acceptance among the people has increased,” he said. “This is a result of the pro-people schemes and development agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Thakur added.
“In the last assembly elections, we had nearly 50,000 votes in the Valley and due to the good governance of Prime Minister we have a basic membership of 4,30,000,” he added.
Confident of forming govt in state
Thakur further said that the BJP is also looking to do well in the assembly election. As of now, the state is under Governor’s rule and no dates have been announced for the assembly polls.
Thakur said when the assembly elections are announced, the BJP will field candidates in all constituencies in the state.
“We will field our own candidates and will carry out a rigorous campaign. I can tell you now that the next chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir will be from the BJP,” he said.
Asked if his party will opt for pre-poll alliances, Thakur said, “Options are always open for political parties. However, as far as I know, we are fighting the Parliamentary elections alone and in the assembly elections, we will fight on all seats in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.”
On Peoples Conference chief Sajjad Lone, who had staked claim to form a government with the backing of BJP MLAs last year, Thakur said, “There is no talk of a pre-poll alliance. We have a lot of options but we will see after the election what Sajjad sahab plans to do.
“Sajjad Lone is a true nationalist and a strong voice from Kashmir. It is important for people like Sajad Lone to come forward. We will see how the situation unfolds”.
Asked to comment on the BJP’s stand on the abrogation of Article 35A, Thakur said, “We have never cheated people. Our agenda is development. One thing that we repeat often is ‘Ek Nidhaan, Ek Pradhan, Ek Nishaan‘. If there is one flag in all of the country, Jammu and Kashmir too should have one flag.”
The BJP leader added that as Article 35A was sub-judice, his party will respect the decision of the judiciary. He also urged the people of J&K to respect the Supreme Court verdict in this regard.