The Uttar Pradesh police have reportedly confiscated goats and chicken from Mushara village in eastern Uttar Pradesh's Sant Kabir Nagar district, preventing Muslims from sacrificing animals during Eid al-adha, the Islamic festival of the sacrifice slated for celebration on 25 September.
According to a report, the Muslim residents of Mushara village sacrificed animals for the first time in 2007, sparking riots. The riots, allegedly started by BJP leader Yogi Adityanath's Hindu Yuva Vahini, resulted in the destruction of several mosques, houses and shops in Mushara, Catch News reported.
The incident prompted Muslims to 'promise' that they won't sacrifice animals again in the village.
"After the riots, the Muslims promised they would not sacrifice any animal either in their homes or in a public place during Bakr Eid. We have their statements on record," district magistrate Saroj Kumar told Catch.
However, this year, Muslims want to celebrate Eid al-adha according to the rituals and have appealed to the administration that they be allowed to sacrifice animals inside their homes.
"They are now saying they want to sacrifice animals in their homes and not publicly. But they promised they would not perform sacrifices even in their homes. They should keep their promise," Kumar said.
The appeal of the Muslims has been objected by Hindu Yuva Vahini that has threatened to "react" if they sacrifice animals. "Why did they start a new tradition in 2007?... And now they want to start the practice again. We will definitely react," Vahini's Sant Kabir Nagar president Tun Tun Sharma said.
In order to maintain peace and prevent a riot, police have confiscated all the animals owned by Muslims in the area, Kumar said. "We confiscated the animals as a precautionary measure... What if communal riots break out once again over the sacrifice of animals?" he added.
We only want our constitutional rights, says Muslims in Mushara
Mushara resident Mohammed Khalid said that he was detained for a day and was left only after giving in writing that he won't sacrifice animal in the village. He referred to their action as "unconstitutional".
"What the district administration and the police are doing is totally unlawful. The Constitution says the people of this country are free to celebrate their festivals the way they like... And we don't even sacrifice animals whose killing is banned by law," Khalid said.
"We are not allowed to sacrifice animals even in our homes," he added.
Mohammed Farooq Ghosi, a Muslim leader, holds a similar view. He said that he will hold a protest march from Mushara to the district days before the Eid celebration. "Are Muslims not citizens of India? Don't they have the right to celebrate their festival the way they like?... We are saying we'll sacrifice the animals in our homes, not in a public place. Then why is the district administration jittery?" Ghosi questioned.
"What the district administration and the police are doing is against the spirit of the Constitution," he said.
The National Commission for Minorities has taken "note of the matter and has sought a reply from the Uttar Pradesh government", Ghosi added.