CATTLE traders block the road near Saggian when the city district administration forcibly picked up a number of goats on the pretext of their sale at illegally set up points and for defying standard operating procedures. — White Star / Murtaza Ali
CATTLE traders block the road near Saggian when the city district administration forcibly picked up a number of goats on the pretext of their sale at illegally set up points and for defying standard operating procedures. — White Star / Murtaza Ali

LAHORE: While the sale and purchase of the sacrificial animals touched its peak at Shahpur Kanjran, Punjab’s largest cattle market, and other sale points, several animal traders staged a protest demonstration and blocked the road near Saggian after a city administration team launched a crackdown and forcibly picked up a number of goats on the pretext of their sale at illegally set-up points and defying precautions.

However, the livestock farmers rejected the officials’ claim, terming it tactics to ‘earn money’ by harassing them and detaining their animals.

“We have blocked this road under protest against the officials’ action that is not at all justified. They are treating us like criminals, as they are not only manhandling us but also picking our animals on a daily basis,” deplored Munawar who had brought several goats at Saggian for sale.

“Today the officials forcibly took our several goats in two trucks. And when they would return to us we don’t know. That is why we are protesting by blocking this road,” he said.

Each year, a number of tradesmen bring hundreds of thousands of goats, calves, bulls, cows, sheep and camels from many rural areas of Punjab and other provinces to Lahore’s main Shahpur Kanjran cattle market and about 10 designated sale points and several small non-designated points in city. They look after their animals whole year through and prefer to sell them in Lahore for getting good price and profit on the eve of Eid.

“We never saw such a worst situation we are passing through at present. There is no information about the designated sale points / Mandis. Since many people come here, we started selling our animals here. But, we didn’t know the price we paid in the form of facing the wrath of officials,” criticised Anwar, another trader of sacrificial animals.

“They have taken all of my animals with them in a truck,” he said. “Had we known about such a bad treatment with us before, we would have never entered this city,” he said.On the other hand, the sale / purchase of sacrificial animals picked momentum on Thursday as a large number of people thronged Shahpur Kanjran and other markets / sale points. Many people were seen negotiating over buying of animals of their choice.

“This time the rates are really too much high, as the goat I bought last year cost Rs30,000 and now its price is over 40,000,” said one Aqeel.

“I am requesting this gentleman to give this goat for Rs35,000, but he is not ready. He is asking for Rs40,000,” he added.

But the seller on the other hand was of the view that the rates of everything including fodder, dana etc for the animals has gone up by 30 per cent.

“The total cost incurred on this animal is Rs38,000. And I am selling this at just Rs41,000,” said Sarwar.

According to an official of the Lahore Division Cattle Market Management Company, the number of sacrificial animals at Shahpur Kanjran this time is much lesser than it was last year.

“The government didn’t allow presence of a huge number of animals due to fear of Covid-19 spread. This caused reduction in the numbers. But the number of buyers is higher and that has led to increase in price of animals,” he explained.

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2020