SRINAGAR: The Parimpora fruit mandi, on Srinagar’s outskirts, has become a centre of attraction ahead of the festival of Eid-ul-Adha, because of the camels on sale here. People visit the market both to buy and to take selfies with the ship of the desert, with kids and teenagers milling around in large numbers to have some fun.
Abdul Rahman Malla, a cattle trader, waits patiently at his shop for customers and, in less than 20 minutes, receives at least a dozen calls from across the Valley, enquiring about the availability of camels.
Every year on Eid-ul-Adha, millions of animals are sacrificed by Muslims across the globe to commemorate the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) to sacrifice his son, Prophet Ismael (AS), as an act of obedience to the Allah’s command.
During Eid days, when most cattle traders in Kashmir sell goats and sheep, Malla said he has been selling camels for over 25 years now. “This year I imported three camels from Rajasthan. One of them has been sold to a regular customer of mine from Kupwara,” he said.
Malla told Kashmir Reader that the reason he decided to sell camels in the Valley was because they were mostly Prophet Mohammed’s (SAW) preferred choice for sacrifice. Malla claimed that although the demand for sheep and goats in Kashmir is much higher than for other bovines, there were still people looking for bigger animals like cows, buffalos, bulls and oxen. “I thought of introducing camels because it was the only species missing here; the rest were easily available in the market. I knew if people purchased bulls, buffalos etc., then they would definitely show interest in camels as well,” he said.
Malla imports a limited number of camels, he said, because he cannot afford the risk of a higher number as they cost more than other big animals. “There is always a risk because you might end up selling to no one. To be on the safe side, I prefer to import a handful of camels,” he said, adding, “They are mostly bought by a few regular customers, but that does not mean no one apart from them can buy camels. Whosoever is ready to pay the amount can buy.”
Malla said he imported 11 camels a few years ago and all were sold to people from different parts of the Valley. “Every time I get camels, I give an advertisement in the newspapers, and a number of people start calling me,” he said. “I don’t take orders in advance because of the high price. If a customer says no at the last moment, I will end up in loss. I then have to slaughter them and sell their meat at this shop by the kilo, which really becomes a hectic process.”
According to Malla, it takes him more than two months to set a deal with traders in Rajasthan to import camels. He added that camel meat is available at his shop only once every year or two. Despite people from all over the Valley, including Srinagar, coming to buy, it takes a long time to finish the stock of over 250 killograms.
Malla has a team of eight, all of whom are trained in slaughtering camels. “Initially we faced difficulties as the slaughtering process is completely different. We usually charge Rs 15,000 per camel, though rates can be negotiable,” he said.