Srinagar: All Kashmir Wholesale Mutton Dealers Association on Tuesday alleged that the animal rights activists backed by union minister Maneka Gandhi were blocking the movement of their livestock laden trucks at various check posts from Delhi to Jammu.
Addressing a hurriedly called press conference here, the chairman of the association, Manzoor Ahmad Kanoon, said the Hindu groups and animal rights activists have imposed “illegal tax” on Kashmiri mutton dealers at Pathankot, Ambala and Lakhanpore in Jammu.
“They, the hooligans, charge us in the name of animal tax. We are being harassed and those who refuse to pay are thrashed,” he said, and alleged that local administration completely supports these elements. He alleged that the police in Punjab “even accompany” these hooligans who harass and extort Kashmiri mutton dealers.
During the press conference, the other members of the mutton dealers were also present. Besides, the members of Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) were also present on the occasion.
The KEA also expressed concern over the “harassment” of Kashmiri mutton dealers and warned government of consequences if it fails to resolve the issue.
President of Sheep and Goat Suppliers Association, Abdul Rashed said that three days before Eid-ul-Fitr, about 160 trucks were stopped which led to death of around 1000 sheep.
He said that the harassment and extortion was going on from last three years. “We are being punished for consuming mutton,” he said.
The mutton dealers and KEA alleged that some “Saffron parties” were conspiring against Kashmir trade and economy and they want to make people of valley dependent on Delhi for even small things.
When contacted minister for consumer affairs and public distribution minister, Choudhary Zulfkar Ali said that they were following Supreme Court guidelines about the number of livestock which could be carried in a truck
Now if the mutton traders want the ruling to be revoked, the minister said, they must approach the Supreme Court.
However, he was not sure clear about the limit put by the apex court.
The minister said that the dealers should approach his office with a representation, if they were being harassed despite carrying livestock as per court orders.
“I will do whatever is in our,” he said. (With inputs from GNS)