RAWALPINDI, Oct 25: Proscribed outfits have openly installed banners across the city seeking sacrificial animal hides despite government’s claim to stop them.
Even some of the political parties and groups have launched campaigns to collect the hides without getting the mandatory no-objection certificate (NOC) from the district administration.
It may be mentioned that a ban has already been imposed by the district administration on the directives of the federal government on collection of hides not only by the banned outfits but also political and religious parties, organisations and NGOs.
The police and local administration have, however, turned a blind eye to the violation of the ban and left the residents at the mercy of these groups who are soliciting ‘alms’ in the name of the needy people.
The federal government had recently issued a notification directing the district administration to allow only those organisations, groups or trusts to collect the hides which get the NOC.
“We have received directions from the interior ministry to stop the banned outfits from collecting hides as they may use the amount (generated from the sale of the hides) in carrying out their nefarious designs,” said Saqib Zafar, the district coordination officer (DCO), while talking to this reporter.
He claimed: “No party, group or organisation will be allowed to collect hides unless and until they get the NOC. The police will be keeping a vigil on these organisations,” he remarked.
The official said the city district government would impose Section 144 in areas where arrangements had been made for collective sacrifices to avoid snatching or forcible collection of hides.
To a question, the DCO said so far only two mosques - one from Wah Cantonment and the second from Rawalpindi city - had applied for the NOC.
During a visit to different localities, this reporter found many banners installed by the banned organisations requesting the faithful to give the sacrificial animal hides to them for the ‘welfare of orphans, widows and other needy people.’
One can see the banners of Jamaatul Dawa at Benazir Bhutto Road near Waris Khan bus stop, Hizbul Tahrir at Commercial Market, Sunni Tehrik at Sadiqbad and Pirwadhai.
Many of these banned outfits have changed their names just to get as many hides as possible. Jamaatul Dawa has renamed itself as Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation, Sipah-i-Sahaba as Millat-i-Islamia and Jaish-i-Mohammad as Alfurqan and Khuddamul Islam.
Some political and religious parties have also come out to collect the hides. They include Jamaat-i-Islami, which is seeking the hides under the banner of Al-Khidmat Foundation; Muttahida Qaumi Movement with Khidmat-i-Khalq Foundation, International Minhajul Quran, Edhi Foundation and Shaukat Khanam Hospital of Imran Khan, etc.
MQM and Shaukat Khanam Hospital are also sending SMS to the residents urging them to donate the hides to them for the welfare of the needy.
It may be noted that animal hides are sold in the market at high rates. A goat or sheep skin can fetch around Rs500 to Rs700 and that of a cow or bull Rs3,500 to Rs4,000. The camel skin is worth over Rs5,000.
According to an estimate made by the local administration, more than 500,000 animals were sacrificed during Eidul Azha last year.
“Butchers, organisations and madressahs come to our outlets at Jamia Masjid Road and Glass Factory to sell the animal hides. Some seminaries manage to collect hides worth Rs300,000 while religious parties and organisations send their collections to their main offices in Lahore,” said Mohammad Arif, the owner of a shop at Chamra (animal skin) market at Jamia Masjid Road.
“We sell the hides for the welfare of people affected by the earthquake and floods; orphans, widows and needy students,” said Malik Azam, the spokesman for the JI Rawalpindi.
He said all the welfare works was done by JI’s sister organisation, Al-Khidmat Foundation, and the political affairs of the party had nothing to do with it. He claimed that the JI had already got an NOC from the local administration.
Pakistan Sunni Tehrik spokesman Naeem Raza said they worked for the welfare of the needy people and collected hides for this purpose.
However, he was not sure about the ban imposed on the collection of hides.
A Jamaatul Dawa worker, who was contacted on the cellphone number mentioned on its banners, said they were working for the welfare of the people. “We have been asked to collect hides and send them to our headquarters in Lahore where a cell has been set up to deal with these hides,” he said.
He said last year the organisation had managed to collect around 3,000 hides. But this year, the number will reduce due to the restrictions.
“We collect the skins for the welfare of the flood- and earthquake-affected and other needy people. Last year, we got about 100 skins,” said Malik Munir Anjum, the zonal in-charge of the MQM Rawalpindi.
He expressed ignorance about the ban on hide collection and claimed that compared to last year his party would collect more hides this year.