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Eid-ul-Adha: Traders in Deonar left in lurch as Maharashtra govt prohibits sale of sacrificial animals in open markets

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Written by Iram Siddique
| Mumbai |

Published: July 19, 2020 3:32:43 am





eid al adha, bakra eid, bakra eid scarifice, maharashtra sheep sale prohibition, maharashtra sheep sale for sacrifice prohibition, indian express news The Deonar mandi is Mumbai’s biggest market with an approximate revenue generation of Rs 100 crore with sales of about 2.5 lakh goats and sheep. (File)
The state government’s decision prohibiting the sale of goats and sheep at mandis across the state, two weeks before Eid-ul-Adha (Bakra Eid), has left thousands of cattle dealers in Mumbai in a lurch. Traders have maintained that the decision has come too late with little clarity on how a business that heavily relied on customers turning up at mandis to buy their animals will be shifted online or conducted through calls.

The Deonar mandi is Mumbai’s biggest market with an approximate revenue generation of Rs 100 crore with sales of about 2.5 lakh goats and sheep in the 25 days leading up to Eid-ul-Adha every year. About 3,500 dealers and traders that operate in the city and another 15,000 from across the state are likely to be hit by the government’s decision.

Instead of selling the cattle at the mandi, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh has issued a set of guidelines stating that the sale of animals for the festival will be restricted to online or through calls while no mandis for sale of animals will be functional across the state. The government on Friday urged people to ensure that Eid-ul-Adha celebrations remain a lowkey affair with the prayers offered at their homes instead of congregating at a mosque.

While Eid-ul-Adha is set to be celebrated on August 1, the sale of goats and sheep begins at the Deonar mandi for Mumbai and across the state about 20 days before Eid-ul-Adha. But for traders who get these animals to the mandis from different parts of the country, the process starts at least a month before Eid. After the opening of Deonar abattoir on July 3, several dealers, in anticipation of relaxations for Eid-ul-Adha amidst strict guidelines, had already begun the process of procuring cattle from the neighbouring states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and even Uttar Pradesh.

Many traders like Yamin Yasin Qureshi (61), a third-generation trader in his family, had already invested Rs 20 lakh in 100 goats and sheep waiting to be brought into the city. While the state has called for online sale of animals, there has been no indication from the government on how this online selling platform will be set up and how it will operate. Many traders also do not have the technical or financial wherewithal for setting up an online platform.

“Unless we show our animals, how will people buy them? This online business is beyond my understanding. What am I supposed to do with these animals now,” asked Qureshi. Qureshi’s apprehension is not unfounded. A similar experiment to sell the cattle online was started by a few goat-farm owners about four years ago but failed to pick up. They eventually had to sell the cattle by putting up a shed at the Deonar mandi.

Echoing the concerns of the traders, Gulrez Qureshi, Mumbai president of All India Jamiatul Quresh, called the government’s decision a face-saving tactic and said, “The traders are simple people not well versed with technology to carry the trade online. The decision has come so late that there is no time to set up a digital platform or train these traders. This is not an organised sector which can have a smooth transition.”

According to Gulrez, even if a few manage to take the online route, the model has real challenges for animals meant for sacrifice as they have to be healthy and without any injuries while being sold, something that will be difficult to establish online or through calls.

Many traders like Idris Qureshi who get one truck per year costing about Rs 60 lakh with four of his partners explained that even while transporting these animals, special care is taken to ensure that they don’t get injured in the journey.

“If a person pays online for the animal but does not find it suitable when the animal is delivered, what happens then? It will only create further trouble. Cattle are not gadgets that can be ordered online from sites like Amazon and Flipkart,” said Idris.

According to Gulrez, at least 50,000 people that are a part of the industry directly or indirectly, from transporters, dealers, butchers, the leather industry and the farmers who sell fodders will face the repercussions. Several butchers from UP and Bihar come to the city during Eid to make some extra money earning anywhere between Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,000 per sacrifice.

Several organisations and people, including Shahnawaz Thanawala, president of Bombay Mutton Dealers’ Association, had urged the government to allow smaller mandis across the city to operate. Only one person per family to be allowed in the mandi to maintain adequate social distancing, it was suggested. It was rejected by the government. Gulrez maintained that such suggestions were made to the government at least a month in advance, but they failed to act in time to chalk out guidelines.

“A total ban on mandis will give impetus to illegal sale in pockets hurting the genuine traders,” said Thanawala. While Gulrez is seeking legal opinion for filing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court.

Traders like Yamin, accepting the government’s decision, maintained that “I do not have a problem with the government’s rule. But just that the same had to be clarified in time at least 45 days before.”

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