KARACHI: Eidul Azha or Bakra Eid is upon us again. Makeshift markets for goats, sheep, lambs, cows, bulls and camels have sprung up almost everywhere. The roads with such markets are narrower and difficult to manoeuvre for traffic, especially for cars so it is best for those not looking to buy an animal to avoid them altogether.
This time around there is also some panic about the danger of the spread of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, Congo virus for short, through ticks. People shopping for sacrificial animals are being warned to go out wearing trousers and full-sleeve shirts with closed shoes and socks in order to avoid getting stung. They are also advised to check the animals for ticks when they are checking other things such as their teeth, age and weight before making a purchase.
Handling the fresh meat later also calls for extra care. Butchers in particular have been issued guidelines by the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council as they are more at risk of catching the disease. The meat should not be handled with bare hands. It should also be cooked well before consuming.
Meanwhile, even though there had been some talk of decline in prices of sacrificial animals due to the Congo virus scare and not many people buying, the animals are not cheap. Year after year we hear the same thing about their price going beyond the reach of the common people. This is also why the purchase of these animals gains momentum very close to Eid or during Eid, especially its last day when the sellers are also giving up and reducing prices to rock bottom as they, too, are not looking forward to going home without selling their animals.
According to an estimate Pakistanis spend over Rs425 billion on sacrificial animals for Eidul Azha.
Sacrificial animals reach Karachi from three points — the Superhighway, the National Highway and Hub River Road. And passing through the toll gates at these places the truck drivers almost never give the correct number of animals they are carrying thus stealing tax. Who’s going to climb into the back of a truck to check anyway?
On an average over 500,000 sacrificial animals are slaughtered in Karachi alone and with some 350,000 of them being small animals such as goats and sheep while the rest of them were big animals like cows, camels, etc.
A goat, sheep or lamb may cost from Rs25,000 to Rs45,000 whereas a cow or buffalo may cost something between Rs75,000 to Rs120,000 or more. Recently, there was an incident, which also went viral on social media, showed a young goat seller crying his heart out on having been cheated out of an honest sale. Apparently, he was paid Rs27,000 for his goat but the money paid to him, he later discovered, was fake. The Rs5,000 and Rs1,000 notes had all been printed on a computer.
These people breed livestock and take extra special care of their animals hoping to make money during this time of year only. Their animals are their investment. Bargaining or negotiating prices with them is fine and part of buying a sacrificial animal too, but cheating someone like this is a horrible thing to do. One also wonders if such a sacrifice would be accepted by the Almighty.
Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018