Srinagar, Aug 9 (PTI) As the authorities eased restrictions in Kashmir on Friday, some cattle traders appeared on the roads here to sell their sheep and goat for Eid, but there were few takers.
Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance that the government is making all sincere efforts to ensure that the people in the region have no difficulties in celebrating Eid-ul-Azha, which is on Monday, sale of sacrificial animals is unimpressive in view of heavy security deployment.
“I have only sold over a dozen sheep so far as the demand for the sacrificial animals has come down in view of the prevailing security situation,” Mohammad Latief Gujjar, a nomad, told PTI near Dalgate locality where he had kept his large herd for sale.
Latief , who hails from the Akhnoor area of Jammu, is on a seasonal migration to Kashmir Valley along with his flock and family. They are putting up at Khanmoh on the outskirts of Srinagar along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway.
Gujjars and Bakarwal communities earn their living by rearing different kinds of domestic animals such as cows, buffaloes, sheep, goats and horses and for centuries move between Jammu and Srinagar regions bi-annually in search of greener pastures.
“This time the demand is very low…I used to sell over 250 sheep and goats for sacrifice on Eid,” he said while negotiating a deal with a prospective buyer, Mushtaq Ahmad Mir, for two of his sheep.
An uneasy calm prevails in the city where police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed in strength to prevent any protest by residents against the centre government’s move to abrogate constitutional provisions that accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and divide the state in two union territories.
“We used to sacrifice five sheep to distribute among relatives and neighbours besides keeping some parts for ourselves. We don’t know how the situation develops so we have decided to restrict the number to two to fulfil the religious obligation and cover only our neighbours,” Mir said.
He said the government has eased the restrictions but the movement of the people remained thin on the roads and only a few shops mostly selling vegetables and medicines are opened.
Mohammad Farooq, a nomad Bakarwal from Rajouri, said he has slashed the rates, but only managed to sell five sheep.
“I faced a lot of problem in reaching here (Rambagh locality), crossing barricades and razor wire that have been put in place to block free movement in view of the curfew-like restrictions. The atmosphere is surcharged and challenging,” he said, referring to stone-pelting in the vicinity earlier in the day.
He, however, is hopeful of selling his stock of 100 sheep and goats which he had reared for the occasion.
Faizan Ahmad, a meat-seller in the Karan Nagar area, is also concerned about the low turnout of buyers.
“I had ordered five truck loads of sheep and goats, of which only one has reached me so far. I used to sell over 300 animals but so far I have sold only 60,” he said.
Not only the people dealing with sacrificial animals, businessmen dealing in bakery, readymade garments and sweets that usually used to witness high demand ahead of Eid are fearing huge losses as well.
“I have bought material worth lakhs of rupees for making bakery and confectionery for the festival but I don’t know how to make up for the losses as we are apprehensive that the situation is not going to get normalized in near future,” Abdul Latief, who has his shop in volatile downtown Srinagar, said.
He said his employees, most of whom are outsiders, have already left Kashmir Valley.
Aijaz Ahmad Bhat, a readymade garment shop owner at Lal Chowk, said, “My shop is fully packed with new arrivals but I don’t know what to do. The situation is very serious as the sentiment of the people was hurt by scrapping of the Article 370 that too without consulting them.”
He said he is apprehensive of deterioration in the law and order situation once the curbs are completed lifted.
“I only pray that this phase passes without a life lost. We had seen enough of bloodshed and are desirous of peace to prosper but such unilateral and dictatorial orders only complicate things,” he said.
By Tariq Sofi PTI