Mutton dealers from Kashmir Monday held a protest in Srinagar against “harassment” and levying of “extortionate” taxes in Punjab.
Members of Chinar Sheep and Goat Welfare Association, All Jammu and Kashmir Mutton Dealers Association and All Jammu and Kashmir Butchers Association held a protest at Press Enclave Srinagar and urged the state government to again take up the issue with the Punjab government.
The protesting mutton dealers alleged that vehicles carrying livestock are “held up by Punjab and Haryana police on the highway for hours every day, which delays the supply to Kashmir and poses threat to the life of the livestock.”
They said that “gangs of almost two dozen local goons pretending to be Cattle Fair representatives are extorting a tax of four percent on the total live stock value” on trucks plying on the Pathankot- Madhopur- Lakhanpur road stretch in the name of ‘Punjab Cattle Fair Act 1967’.
“We procure these animals from Gazipur in Delhi under valid documents and receipts and have been doing this trade for last several years.
“Since last two years, we have been paying Rs 6000 – Rs 7000 per truckload in the name of ‘cattle fair charge’. Now suddenly they have increased the charges to 4 percent of the value, which comes to almost Rs 30,000 on each truckload of livestock,” they said.
“Dealers can’t afford to pay this huge amount so we have suspended supplies,” said Khazar Muhammad Rigoo.
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti had last April written to her Punjab counterpart Parkash Singh Badal, seeking his intervention to stop the harassment of Kashmiri mutton traders and importers.
Mehbooba had said that “certain persons near Madhopur in Punjab realise substantial amount of money from mutton dealers as special tax for transportation of livestock (sheep/goat), notwithstanding the fact that livestock are procured from neighbouring state of Rajasthan.”
She had requested Badal that since the mutton dealers are not getting support from police, necessary instructions be issued to the concerned so that they are not harassed and no tax is charged from them for transportation of their livestock.
( Featured image by Zargar Zahoor)