The failure of the Kashmir administration to settle the price of mutton has led to a four-month-long crisis and shutdown of retail outlets in the region as the sellers’ complaint that the new rates would push them into losses.
The crisis began in November last year when the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir fixed the price of mutton at 480 rupees per kilogram while the retail price was 600 per kilogram.
“When the mutton is arriving here for 600 rupees per kg how will we sell it for 480 rupees?” Mehraj-Ud-Din Ganai, General Secretary All Kashmir Association of Mutton Dealers told The Kashmir Walla.
Ganai said that the supply of mutton into Kashmir has been “next to nothing” during the past ten days. “Around 95% of the mutton is not coming [to the valley],” he said.
Kashmir has a high consumption of mutton round the year and most of it is imported from northern and central Indian states. According to a report of 2011, Kashmir had consumed 51000 tonnes of mutton and spent over 1200 crore rupees on its purchase.
“We couldn’t find mutton anywhere in our area for the past one month. Even before that, there was a problem as most of the shops were closed,” said Farooq Ahmad, the resident of Bemina said.
Even as Kashmiris are voracious mutton eaters, the demand grows drastically in the region during the wedding seasons, which is still a few months away. According to Ganai, the consumption is around 5000 sheep per day across Kashmir.
Ganai said that dealers never agreed upon the government’s fixed rate. “There is an ongoing dispute with the administration for this.”
Khazir Mohammad, president of Retail Mutton Dealers Association, said the dealers would go into losses if they agree to sell mutton at the rate fixed by the government.
Mohammad suggested that the J-K administration should subsidize mutton “as they do with ration, kerosene, gas”. “They need to ease the travel costs, then a dealer might sell at this fixed rate”.