Sheep, goats get pricey as Kashmiris shop for Eid

Sheep, goats get pricey as Kashmiris shop for Eid

"The animal sellers are charging at will. There is no check on the rates. I bought two rams for Rs.18,000 while some of the more affluent buyers paid over Rs.12,000 per ram,"said Sonaullah Dar, 45, a businessman living in the uptown Hyderpora area of the city.

The biggest animal market has been set up at the Eidgah grounds in the old city area where animal sellers from different parts of the state have brought their flocks of sheep and goats for sale.

"I have come all the way from Rajouri district of the Jammu region to sell my flock. I had to ferry the flock in a truck besides making arrangements for their fodder," said Nasarullah Khatana, 57.

Muslims throughout the world offer animal sacrifice on Eid-ul-Azha to commemorate a centuries-old tradition. The legend goes that Prophet Abrahim had offered to sacrifice his son Ismail to please Allah. As Abrahim started running the knife on his son's throat, a ram from heaven replaced Ismail as Allah was pleased with the absolute obeisance of Prophet Abrahim.

The festival is observed with great fervour in Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-dominated state. And, needless to say, many sellers try to make a quick buck.

Bashir Ahmad, 36, a government employee here, said: "The administration has no system to check the overcharging by animal sellers and most buyers do not haggle over the rates because of the solemnity of the occasion." But the animal sellers say they have to arrange grass and fodder to feed the livestock to rear healthy and fat animals for sacrificial offerings.

"The sacrificial animals have to be absolutely healthy and well reared. For this, we have to spend additional amounts of money. Nobody considers this while accusing us of overcharging," said Abdul Sattar, 43, a livestock owner who has come here from south Kashmir's Shopian district to sell his flock.

Besides sacrificial animals, woollen garments and bakery are the other sought after items. "We have set up market checking squads to ensure that the buyers are not overcharged during festival days. There are enough stocks of LPG cylinders, kerosene  and other essential commodities throughout the state," said an official of the state administration here. The only problem is that the buyers should not indulge in panic buying which helps hoarders and profiteers exploit the markets."