Butchers Association shifts blame on government for allowing rates to go back
SRINAGAR: Even after a month since the four-month hiatus over mutton rates has been over, there is very limited adherence to the government-set rates in Kashmir. Mutton dealers in all parts of the valley continue to sell mutton at Rs 600 a kg, against the government set rate of Rs 535 per kg.
Muhammad Afaan, a resident of Batapora Srinagar, told Kashmir Reader that he has purchased mutton from various parts of the city in the past month but has never come across anyone who follows the government rates. He said once he did find a dealer selling mutton at Rs 550, but the quality was substandard.
“It was hard, scrambled meat,” he said. “He sold it because his shop was sealed by the government for selling mutton at Rs 600.”
Since December last year until mid-March this year, mutton dealers had been on a strike over the rates. The government was directing them to sell it at Rs 500 but mutton dealers were adamant on selling it at about Rs 600. When there was no adherence to the government’s direction, the government sealed many shops and filed cases against offenders. The results of the actions bore fruit in March when the dealers agreed to sell mutton at Rs 535. But in practice, they continue to flout the agreement.
Another consumer, Abdul Rasheed, told Kashmir Reader that during the initial days of the agreement, a butcher did sell it at Rs 535, but now the rates have gone back to Rs 600 per kg. When he asked the butcher about this, the butcher said that everywhere it is being sold at Rs 600, Rasheed added.
Kashmir consumes around 1,000 lakh kg/year of mutton. Rough estimates suggest that the daily consumption of meat in Kashmir is worth Rs 5 crore. It is said that Rs 800 crore loss was suffered by mutton dealers due to the strike. It is to redeem that loss, and due to no fear of the government, that dealers continue to sell mutton at Rs 600.
Khazri Muhammad Rigoo, president of the region’s butchers’ association, blamed the government for allowing rates to go back to Rs 600. He said that wholesalers who had agreed to sell it at Rs 495 now sell it to retailers at Rs 520. They also keep the supply short, which makes the prices go up, he said.
“We had written to the government about it, but no action was taken,” Rigoo said.
Director of Food Supplies, Bashir Ahmad, did not answer his phone when this reporter tried to reach him.
Divisional Commissioner PK Pole told Kashmir Reader that he was busy in a meeting.