For the past five days,beef shops in UPs Jyotiba Phule Nagar district have been closed,following a diktat by Minister of State for Textiles and Sericulture Mehboob Ali to sell beef at a price not higher than Rs 70 per kg. Jamiatul Quresh,the association of meat traders,says it cannot afford to sell beef at this price,but the minister has not budged.
The traders have appealed to the district administration for help. They have also submitted to the District Magistrate a petition addressed to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. Before the minister issued his fiat,the price of beef was Rs 100 per kg.
The trouble began on Monday when a public announcement of the ministers farman was made in Amroha,the district headquarters,that beef will now be sold at Rs 70 per kg and the shopkeepers who failed to comply with the order would face action.
After the announcement,Mehboob Ali took a round of the market in Amroha and reportedly misbehaved with shopkeepers who did not obey the order. Since then,1,300 beef shops in the district have been closed.
Since selling beef at Rs 70 per kg was not a viable business,Jamiatul Quresh proposed that they be allowed a margin of Rs 5 per kg. We said that after removing the wastage we want a profit of Rs 5 per kg only,but there has been no response from the minister, said Khalid Qureshi,district president of Jamiatul Quresh.
The meat-sellers staged a protest at the collectorate and handed over a memorandum to DM Abhay Kumar. We had addressed the memorandum to the CM so that he is made aware of the high-handedness of his minister, said Khalid.
The acrimony between the Qureshis,who are in meat business,and Mehboob Ali goes back to the Assembly elections. Many Qureshis had backed Naved Ayaz of Rashtriya Lok Manch,who belonged to their community. Naved polled 4,487 votes.
The DM said,The rates cannot be so low that the trader is at a loss,nor so high that the consumer is fleeced. As far as ministers announcement is concerned,we cannot comment on it.
Despite several phone calls,Mehboob Ali refused to talk. When his staff was told about the issue,one of them,who did not identify himself,said that the Qureshis used to defend high price of beef,claiming that they had to pay extortion to police and other officials. We have assured them that there will be no extortion by officials,so they should reduce the price,he said.