Saturday, February 2, 2008
Meat eaters bear brunt of Delhi-Srinagar tussle

Marouf Ahmad Srinagar, Jan 31 The failure of state government to settle issues with self-proclaimed champions of animal rights in Delhi is hitting Kashmiris—knows as voracious meat eaters—very badly as the mutton gets dearer by the day. With Srinagar-based sheep traders unable to import animals, the mutton prizes have registered a steep 20 percent jump from Rs 160 to Rs 200 a kg, reports from many parts of the city said Thursday. “I was astonished when a butcher demanded Rs 400 for two kg of mutton. I did not think it wise to argue with him as other customers were waiting in a long queue,” Bashir Ahmad Beigh, a resident of Soura, told etala’at. Another person, Nasir Ahmad said he woke up early to purchase mutton because after 11 am, the meat shops are locked given the ongoing mutton shortage. Butcher and traders, however, attribute the sharp surge in mutton prizes to inadequate supply. “We get the animals for high rates, we are helpless,” said a butcher, Ghulam Muhammad Rigoo.Nearly 15 lakh sheep and goat are imported from Rajasthan and other states of north India into the Valley every year. However, this accounts for only 60 percent of the total consumption. The rest is generated indigenously. The Valley sheep traders say they find it difficultly to import the animals from main mandi in Delhi. For, they say, the “money minting goons of Maneka Gandhi are harassing them.” “Maneka’s men intercept sheep-loaded trucks on the highways and extort Rs from 20,000 to 30,000 as fine from us that too without any receipt,” says Meraj-ud-Din Dajoo, a leading Srinagar-based wholesale meat trader.Dajoo alleged that Maneka’s men don’t allow a load of beyond 40 sheep (per truck) against the state governments approved 160. “This is sheer harassment by the self-proclaimed upholders of animal rights. The state government should intervene to save us from perpetual trauma,” he said. Talking to etala’at, Director CAPD, Abdul Majeed Dar said the government has taken the issue of traders with higher-ups and the matter will be sorted out very soon.Regarding the prize hike, he said his department can’t do any thing. “If someone is overcharged he should lodge a case with the police,” Dar added.

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