Uttar Pradesh

'No New Customs Allowed': Why This UP Village Protested Buffalo Sacrifice on Bakrid

Swati Goel Sharma

Jun 24, 2024, 08:07 PM | Updated 08:07 PM IST

Still from viral videos showing buffalo slaughter and subsequent protests in Jogither village
Still from viral videos showing buffalo slaughter and subsequent protests in Jogither village
  • Residents of the Hindu-majority village say they plan to patrol streets next Bakrid to prevent slaughter of large animals.
  • On the festival of Bakrid, which fell on 17 June, tensions flared in Jogidher, a small village in Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly district, when Hindu residents protested the ritual slaughter of a buffalo by a Muslim family.

    The village, predominantly Hindu with a population of around 2,500, includes nearly 300 Muslim residents who, according to protesters, have not engaged in buffalo sacrifices on Bakrid in the past.

    The slaughter marked a departure from the village's custom, they said.

    Protests escalated to the extent that police were forced to intervene. They booked eight men from the Muslim family involved, under charges of animal cruelty. Those arrested were, however, released on bail the following day. 

    Leaders of the protest told Swarajya that they would prevent the slaughter of any large animals within the village during next year's Bakrid by conducting street patrols.

    Genesis of the conflict

    On the morning of the Islamic festival of Eid-al-Adha, commonly known as Bakrid, a resident, Sangram Singh, captured a video of his neighbour, Mohammed Israr, slaughtering a buffalo in an open space outside Israr's home.

    As per Singh, it was alarmingly close to a Shiva temple.

    The video, which was later accessed by Swarajya, depicted several men transporting the buffalo's remains into a house.

    Still from the video
    Still from the video
    Still from the video
    Still from the video

    The footage quickly spread among the villagers, sparking immediate protests. Within minutes, residents flooded the streets and surrounded the local police station, chanting slogans that they oppose “initiation of a new tradition on Bakrid”.

    They demanded the arrest of the family involved.

    Singh, 60, recounted the incident over the phone to Swarajya, "It was around 11 am. We were inside our house when we were overwhelmed by an unbearable stench. My wife, covering her mouth, went outside to find the source. She was horrified to see our neighbours slaughtering a buffalo." 

    Singh recorded the act and shared the video in the village.

    Police were initially reluctant to intervene 

    Ram Swaroop Kashyap, the village Pradhan, told Swarajya that although police arrived quickly at the scene, they initially declined to intervene, citing the incident as part of the Muslim festival of animal sacrifice.

    The officers mentioned that if the animal had been a cow or its progeny, they would have proceeded under the cow protection act.

    The villagers, dissatisfied with this response, threatened to escalate their protests.

    A picture of the protest on 17 June
    A picture of the protest on 17 June

    Some residents then told the police that the slaughter was conducted openly, contravening state guidelines which prohibit such visible acts of animal sacrifice. They also highlighted that it was carried out just twenty meters from a Hindu temple.

    Following these arguments, the police acknowledged the validity of the villagers' complaints, Kashyap said.

    Subsequently, an FIR was filed that evening at the Collector Bukganj Police Station in the CB Ganj area against eight family members (FIR number 213).

    They were charged under IPC section 429, which covers acts of mischief involving the harm or destruction of livestock, and under Section 11 of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, which addresses acts of cruelty such as mutilation or unnecessarily cruel killing of animals.

    The individuals named in the report are Mohammed Israr, Mohammed Islam, Mohammed Shafi, and Mohammed Akhlaq, along with Israr’s four sons, whose names are not disclosed. Two of the accused were detained that evening but were released on bail the following day, according to Kashyap.

    The complaint, given in the name of Sangram Singh, says although Muslim residents sacrificed goats in the past, buffalo sacrifice on Bakrid is an attempt to start a new custom and it has created communal tensions in the village. Over 30 Hindu residents are named as co-complainants in the case.

    Statement in the FIR
    Statement in the FIR

    Simmering communal tensions 

    The recent incident has heightened communal tensions in the village, although they have not escalated to violence. 

    The village's Hindu majority, including the Pradhan, Ram Swaroop Kashyap, has openly opposed the practice of animal slaughter on Bakrid, which they view as an introduction of a new religious custom. 

    Conversely, the Muslim residents see the Hindu opposition as an infringement on their religious rights.

    Kashyap, 65, insists that the issue transcends religious lines. "This is not about Hindu versus Muslim,” he said. “It's about maintaining our traditional practices. If it were Hindus introducing a new ritual, we would oppose that just the same.”

    Mohammed Kamruddin, the former Pradhan, counters this perspective. He argued that the Hindu majority is leveraging their greater numbers to suppress Muslim practices.

    Talking to Swarajya, he refuted the claim that animal sacrifice on Bakrid is a new custom, saying, "In families that can afford it, animal sacrifice has always been part of Bakrid. I myself have sacrificed goats every year."

    He said that families who can afford it typically opt to slaughter larger animals, such as buffaloes.

    Kamruddin attributes the opposition to the influence of Hindu nationalist groups like the RSS and Bajrang Dal, which he claims have become active in the village. 

    "The villagers are causing disturbances under their influence," he said.

    Looking ahead to the next Bakrid, Kamruddin advised his community to consider conducting their sacrifices in a neighbouring Muslim-majority village to avoid conflict, he said.

    Meanwhile, Sangram Singh and other Hindu residents remain resolute. Reflecting on the Hindu reaction this Bakrid, Singh said they plan to ensure that “no new practices are established”.

    "Next year, we'll patrol the streets on Bakrid to make sure there’s no deviation from our village’s customs," he declared.

    Swati Goel Sharma is a senior editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @swati_gs.

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