The Historic Day When Qazi Nisar Defied the Beef Ban in Kashmir

Peer Abdul Aziz

Before i slip into telling you about the historic day, when the legendary Qazi Nisar defied the beef ban in 1986, let me introduce myself as someone who has had the honour of great personalities addressing the funeral of my late father, Ghulam Mohammed Dar. Qazi Ghulam Mohammed, Peer Abdul Gani, Mohammed Yusuf Shah traveled on the same horse cart to attend the funeral of my father who passed away in 1981.

Cow slaughter in this Himalayan region of Jammu Kashmir was banned during the Maharaja’s time in 1932 according to a ruling documented under Section 298-A and 298-B of the Ranbir Penal Code.

The memories of this Dogra dictat rule in Kashmir revived in May 1986, when Governor Jagmohan imposed a ban on consumption of meat based on the demand of some Hindu extremist groups. At the time, Qazi Nisar, the Mirwaiz of South Kashmir slaughtered a bovine and a sheep to defy the order.

His defiance brought Nisar into the limelight and a year later he became one of the main architects of the Muslim United Front – the political alliance which contested the 1987 Assembly polls but lost due – it is widely believed and also unofficially acknowledged – to rigging.

It was a hot summer day on 20 May 1986, when Qazi Nisar along with his associates reached our locality in utersoo village of Dabruna in South Kashmir’s Islamabad (Anantnag) district. I was leaving for work and as soon as i saw Dr. Qazi Nisar Ahmed along with his close associates stopping his vehicle near me, i greeted them. I was surprised, i knew him a little and the first thing he said was, we are having breakfast at your house today, Do you have arrangements? Well, in the global context, it may sound strange to have unwanted guests, but here in Kashmir, guests are welcomed and when they are unwanted, they receive more warmth and love.

My wife had delivered a boy just 18 days ago and as soon as the neighbours heard that Qazi Nisar had come to my house, all the girls from the locality poured into the house and started making breakfast for the Qazi Nisar and his four associates with my wife bed ridden. “Do not worry, i will change the destiny of you and our nation, only if i live,” he had told me.

We spoke about diverse topics and it was always an enthralling experience to converse with this great man. I do not know, if my prayers are going anywhere, if my closeness to religion is being counted, but personally i feel that the days and hours i have spent with Qazi Nisar are a return gift for all these years of prayers. Today, i am at least 65 years old, i await an orator of his caliber, a far sighted man of his vision, in him, Kashmir lost a diamond, which can never be carved again.

A few hours later, he asked me if we had prepared lunch, I responded in positive. Not for yourself, for us, Have you?” He questioned me. I replied no we have not, the girls were there so, it was not a tough thing to cook rice. “no you do not need to cook anything special for me, Just grind some chatni for me and if you have curd available, we will eat rice with that” he told me. My wife all this while was eagerly wanting to get out of bed and get a chance to cook and serve this great man, but he constantly asked her to rest. “Women are already doing a lot, without society really acknowledging it, today i am doing this for you,” He kept telling my wife.

After we were done with our lunch, he told me, “Let us go now.” I asked him “Where Qazi Sahab?” to which he responded, “Let us create history, i do not want anybody to be telling us what to have and what not for our lunch, i do not want to tell anyone, why should anyone tell me, This jagmohan thinks that he will rule Kashmir, but he does not know, Qazi Nisar has come now, he will not let it happen.”

“Qazi Sahab i do not want to be hit with bullets,” i told him. Qazi Nisar then proceeded onto Lal Chowk, We got a bovine and a sheep on the way to Lal chowk from my home.Within minutes, everyone was shocked, surprised, jubilant that Kashmir finally had someone to challenge the State’s dictate openly. People cheered in joy, “Zalzala hai Kufr ke Aiwan mei, Lo Mujahid Aa gaya Maidaan mai,” People shouted after Qazi Nisar slaughtered a sheep and a bovine at the town square, that was perhaps the first time, this slogan was shouted by people in Kashmir.

Within hours, Qazi Nisar was arrested and booked under NSA and imprisoned for many months, what followed was history. The part less told about this defiance of ban is that after Qazi Nisar’s arrest following the defiance of the beef ban, people came out openly on the streets and slaughtered bovines in nooks and corners of the Kashmir valley, this great man was being hailed as a hero.

Post him, Kashmir has seen leaders and defiance, but none has reached the scale he was at. Qazi Sahab, we miss you.

The Story has been translated into English  by Salman Shah