India beef ban
According to Islamic scholars the Quran only forbids eating of pig meat and other meats that are not halal Getty Images

The right-wing BJP government in Gujarat, once led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has erected billboards claiming the Quran discourages eating of beef. The hoardings, with images of Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and the Islamic symbol of the crescent moon and star, have come up in Ahmedabad, which witnessed extreme religious violence in 2002.

The billboard displayed the message: "Show respect to cows as it is the leader of all bovines. Its milk, ghee and butter have therapeutic properties and its meat is the cause of several diseases." [via Indian Express]

The hoardings are widely seen as a bid to protect cows -- considered holy by Hindus -- from being slaughtered. They come close on the heels of a ban on cow slaughter in several Indian states including Maharashtra. Gujarat's Cow Welfare Commission and the Pastoral Land Development Board created and installed the hoardings on Janmashtami, a Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna.

A member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Mufti Ahmed Devlavi, denied there was any verse in the Quran that warns against eating beef. "I have never come across such a verse in the holy Quran. It is possible that it may be an Arabic statement, wrongly attributed to the holy Quran. It appears to have been used to mislead Muslims,'' Devlavi was quoted as saying by the Indian Express.

When the chairman of the bovine welfare organisation was asked about the source of the quote from the Quran, he said, "It came from a 20-page booklet in Hindi and Gujarati".

Vallabhbhai Kathiria said: "I got the verse and its translation from a 20-page booklet in Hindi and Gujarati." He added that the booklet was at his home in another city and that he could not recall the name of its author or publisher.

According to Islamic scholars the Quran only forbids eating of pig meat and meats that are not halal.