LAHORE - Shared sacrifice (Ijtamai Qurbani) is on the rise owing to high prices of animals and this changing tendency encourages traders to import big animals like camels, bulls, and cows in the city markets instead of goats, lambs and sheep a survey conducted by TheNation reveals.
Animal vendors and buyers are of the view that the changing trend of buying heavy weight animals are due to nominal difference in price of a goat and an average weighted cow or bull as price starts from Rs 40 thousand and Rs 50 thousand respectively up to seven and eight lakhs.
However, expensive sacrificial animals, with an increase of about 100 per cent in their prices as compared with the previous year, are keeping buyers away from the eight sale points in the City with hardly one week left in the Eidul Azha.
In fact, sky rocketing prices of sacrificial animals are forcing the citizens to opt for “Ijtamai Qurbani” which is becoming popular as slaughtering an animal is a desire of every Muslim but high prices are the main hurdle to it particularly in this era of financial constraint, commented a buyer.
With Eid-ul-Azha fast approaching, the numbers of sacrificial animals are increasing in the temporary cattle-markets of the town. Vendors say that the price hike is the result of the rising inflation, increased transportation charges and other associated expenses.
A buyer Naveed said that he used to sacrifice a goat regularly on every Eid-ul-Azha but this year it is unaffordable for him.
Moreover, the majority of the people visiting these sale points are ‘window shoppers’, interested only in knowing the prices of animals so they could know whether they would be able to fulfill the religious obligation this year.
An on duty official of the City District Government (CDG) claimed that purchase and sale of sacrificial animals were exempted from all taxes and transportation, entry and sale fee so that maximum number of animal traders could be attracted to these sale points.
But, a number of animal vendors complained that the contractors and CDG officials were charging them forcibly.
The official warned animal traders to avoid roaming around with their animals in the city and selling them outside the government approved sale points. Stern action would be taken against such mobile vendors as the government has banned such activity and all the illegal sale points under Section 144, he added.
But he admitted that despite such warnings, animal traders are setting up their private sale points on various busy roads and in populated areas of the City hindering vehicular traffic and creating problems for town administrations and the masses. The waste of such animals also results in blockage of sewerage system, he added.
However, it was noted that a good number of animal traders are bringing their animals to the approved sale points, particularly after announcement of tax-free entry of animals. But serious buyers seem reluctant to visit these distant sale points.
As for the prices of the animals, the traders were seen demanding prices much higher than in the previous year. An average light weight sheep or goat is available at Rs25,000 to Rs35,000 which last year were available at Rs15,000 to Rs20,000. Prices for heavyweights are in the bracket of Rs50,000 to Rs20,0000. Rates for bulls and cows too are high starting from Rs50,000 and reach up to Rs700,000 according to their health, weight and breed.
Giving a justification for the high prices, a trader said that floods in different areas of the country killed many animals this year as well large number of animals was smuggled to other countries. Increase in prices of animal feed and other products was another reason of high prices of animals, he added.
Meanwhile, in Peshawar the business of sacrificial animals gain momentum in the city with comparatively higher prices than the previous years.
During a market survey conduced by this scribe, it was found in different cattle markets that the visitors were more in number than buyers as most of them came to the markets to have an idea about the prices, however traders are expecting that the sale of cattle will speed up as Eid becoming closer.
A customer in Palosi Mandi Market, Malak Fayaz Khalil told The Nation that there is considerable hike in the prices of sacrificial animals as the normal variety is not less than 60,000. He said that he purchased a normal size bull with prices Rs64,000 while the prices of sheep and goats are much higher as compared to large animals.
Talking to The Nation, Rafiullah, a local businessman said the prices in local rural markets are low while the prices in urban areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are much high. He informed that he sold two of his sheep at Rs60,000 while few months back he purchased these sheep at Rs36,000 both.
The businessmen of Punjab and Sindh provinces besides domestic traders have also brought their animals in large number to the lucrative market of Peshawar, which attracts buyers not only from Khyber Pakthunkhwa and Fata but also from neighbouring Afghanistan.
Nearly 30 days ahead of Eidul Azha, sacrificial animals have started pouring into local markets but the prices are very high.
The main markets of the city where great rush on sheep and goats was observed was Chargano Chawak and Palosi, where people bringing animals from the rural parts of Peshawar and sold it on high prices to get some income.
A local trader said that the prices of cattle this year are very high as compared to the last year. Due to high prices of sacrificial animals, the low paid salaried class and low-income groups are being attracted to cost-sharing animals to perform the religious obligation.
Apart from domestic traders, inter-provincial businessmen dealing in cattle heads are bringing their stocks to Peshawar to got high prices in the wake of Eidul Azha. “We have no choice but to import cattle from the Punjab to ensure availability of sacrificial animals at reasonable rates to people,” he said, adding that around 75 per cent cattle are being brought from Punjab to fulfil the people’s demands.