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Monday, November 28, 2022

Courts ban animal sacrifice in temples, will judiciary apply the same law for Eid sacrifices?

High Courts (HC) across several states have passed orders banning animal sacrifice in Hindu temples and festivals, the recent one being the Odisha HC order, citing ‘prevention of cruelty to animals’ as the main reason. But the same courts find no cruelty towards animals when they are mercilessly slaughtered during Bark-Eid. Are we allowed to question the double standards of the judiciary?

The Odisha HC has banned the sacrifice of animals during the popular Chhatar Jatra of Maa Manikeswari at Bhawanipatna in Kalahandi district while giving its ruling on the PIL (Public Interest Litigation) filed by social activist Jayanti Das.

The judgement given by the two-judge bench comprising of justices Sanju Panda and Sangam Kumar ordered the state government to make arrangements to ensure that the order is strictly implemented and that awareness be created to “stop such superstitions”. It also directed the Kalahandi SP (Superintendent of Police) to make sure that no miscreant created any ruckus during the Jatra by carrying out sacrifice.

The court has also ordered the installation of CCTVs to record the festival, create awareness in villages in the vicinity of Manikeswari with help of school and college authorities and students and also to record and store recordings of all awareness programmes.

As per allegations of social activist Jayanti Das the animal sacrifice during festivals had been continuing despite the fact that she had not just appealed to the Kalahandi police and district administration but had also approached the HC in 2017 as well as written to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in this regard.

This ruling comes close on the heels of a similar judgement by the Tripura HC in September last year in response to a 2018 PIL. While stating that “no person including the state shall be allowed to sacrifice any animal or bird within the precincts of any one of the temples within Tripura”, the HC ordered the Tripura government to open a shelter for rearing livestock that has been donated for sacrifices to the temples.

The Himachal HC had passed an order banning animal sacrifices by citing these rituals as ‘barbaric’ and questioning their need in today’s world. It also observed that such ‘cruel and barbaric’ practices should be changed in the ‘modern era’ and ordered that no sacrifice shall be carried out either in any place of worship or adjoining lands and buildings.

The contention of all the courts was that sacrifice causes “immense pain and suffering to innocent animals”. The question then arises is that doesn’t sacrificing animals during Bakr-Eid cause “suffering and immense pain to innocent animals” or are animals sacrificed by minorities “pain proof”?

If anything, the judiciary should be more concerned about the brutal manner in which Bakr-Eid sacrifices are conducted. Nothing spells cruelty more than lining up innocent animals for slaughter and slowly torturing them to death.

While the Islamic Halal slaughter requires the jugular vein to be severed using a single cut but with multiple knife strokes thereby bleeding the animal to death, the Dharmic Jhatka slaughter (employed by Hindus and Sikhs) severs the head with one fell swoop of a sword or axe.

It has been scientifically proven that unlike the Halal method, Jhatka causes only a fraction of the pain as the sensation of pain is lost immediately in the latter and the pain is transmitted to the brain till the time the animal dies in case of Halal slaughter.

The study of neuronal electrical response also indicates that the cerebral cortex stops functioning 5-10 seconds after severing while during ventral neck incision cut (Halal) the animal has to endure the pain for anywhere between 60 seconds to several minutes. Additionally, if the cut is unsuccessful during Halal the animal is forced to bear enduring and severe pain.

It is beyond the scope of this article whether animals should be sacrificed or not but that the laws must apply equally to all citizens of the land. If cruelty to animals is the criteria for banning animal sacrifices, then the judiciary must impose a total ban on Halal slaughters.

(Featured Image Source: The Himalayan Times)

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