SRINAGAR: The issue of beef ban in Jammu and Kashmir has created a divide between the ruling coalition partners, with PDP saying the prohibition cannot be accepted while the BJP is pressing for strict implementation of the 150-year prohibitory rule.
PDP said consumption of beef will continue to be allowed in the state notwithstanding the directive of the High Court for implementing a ban even as BJP said 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 a 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 told PTI.
Mansoor, who is also the political advisor to PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, said India is known world over for its democracy and people have the right to preach their religious beliefs.
"There is no ban in other states like Uttar Pradesh. So, why ban it here? People have the right to eat what their religion permits... Even our Chief Minister (Mufti Mohammad Sayeed) and party president can eat beef if they like to and their health permits. Why should they not eat it when it is permitted in their religion?" he said.
Mansoor said the PDP is a party based on certain principles and it would never compromise on them.
He said PDP formed coalition with BJP for governance of the state on the basis of a common minimum programme known as 'Agenda for Alliance' and it did not mean that there was any merger of the ideologies of the two partners. "There will be no compromise on our own ideology," he said.
On the other hand, BJP state vice-president and Member of Legislative Council Ramesh Arora said his party would not budge on its demand for strict implementation of the ban.
"We are in favour of implementing the ban and we want it to be enforced strongly. These statements from few PDP leaders are their personal views and not a party view. But they should restrain themselves from issuing such irresponsible statements," he said.
"I tell you, I have read Quran and interacted with religious scholars. It (eating beef) is not mandatory for Muslims," the BJP leader insisted.
Arora said the PDP leaders should respect the sentiments of Hindus and have a "rethink on their personal perceptions in the larger interest of the nation".
"They (PDP) members should restrain their emotions and talk rationally. They should think of not hurting the sentiments of the Hindus nationwide. They should stop from saying anything that strengthens separatist or fundamental tendencies and widens the gap in the society," he said.
He said if the PDP has any differences with the BJP over the issue, it should raise them at Coordination Committee meeting.
"They should raise their differences. But I am sure at the end they will agree with us," he said, adding "the sentiments should not come above the law, otherwise that will not be good".
Mansoor said there should be tolerance especially in the matters of religion.
"Our country is a tolerant nation. It is not like other countries like Pakistan where there is no religious tolerance. If our country is strong and moving forward, it is because of tolerance," the PDP leader said.
He noted that the beef ban law has been there since the times of Maharaja and "Even as it was there, beef was still consumed here. There was no (implementation of) ban."
He criticized National Conference (NC) for not scrapping the law while being in power for decades in the state.