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COVID 19 lockdown: Bakarwals stare at huge losses as livestock sale slumps in Kashmir on eve of Eid-ul-Adha

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Srinagar:  Delayed migration, lack of facilities, and restricted movement due to COVID-19 had given a tough time to Mohammad Ibrahim Khatana, a Bakarwal from Rajouri area of Jammu division.

Come Eid-ul-Adha, he was expecting a bumper sale of his livestock. However, luck had other things in store for him.  Given the lockdown, he could not ship off livestock to potential markets in Kashmir resulting in huge financial loss.

 

“I have almost 400 sheep and goat. Nearly 230 could be sold on the eve of Eid-ul- Adha. The government had enforced lockdown for the last one week and I couldn’t take my cattle to Srinagar, Baramulla, and other towns,” he said.

Every year, the sale of livestock on Eid-ul Adha determines the income of most Bakerwals. The money they earn on Eid-ul-Adha is being used to take a grazing land on lease in the Jammu region.

However, this season majority of the goatherds are not been able to sell their livestock in Kashmir due to lockdown.

 Abdul Aziz Kalokhel, a Bakarwal from Reasi told The Kashmir Monitor that the current lockdown coupled with lack of facilities by the government has caused huge losses to shepherds this year.

 “Bakarwals would transport their sheep and goats to various markets weeks before Eid-ul-Adha. The government imposed a lockdown for six days last week due to which the entire process of transportation of livestock was hampered,” he said.

 Kalokhel said many Bakarwals decided not to ship off livestock due to fear of COVID-19 and the apathetic attitude of the people.

“No economic activities could take place in Kashmir for the last four months. Last year I sold almost 50 sheep in just four days on the eve of Eid-ul –Adha,” said Muzaffar Hussein, a Bakarwal, who had come from Wadwan to sell his livestock in Srinagar.

Bakarwals are also annoyed with the government for slashing rates of the livestock. “The rates have been fixed at Rs 220 per Kilogram. While as the sheep brought from other states are being sold at Rs 250 per kilogram,” Hussein said.