For the past five days,beef shops in UPs Jyotiba Phule Nagar district have been closed,following a diktat by MoS for Textiles Mehboob Ali to sell beef at a price not higher than Rs 70 a 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 now appealed to the district administration for help. Before the minister issued his fiat,the price of beef was Rs 100 a kg.
Trouble began Monday when a public announcement of the ministers farman was made in Amroha,the district headquarter,that beef will now be sold at Rs 70 per kg and shopkeepers who failed to comply would face action.
After the announcement,Mehboob Ali visited the market 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 viable,Jamiatul Quresh proposed that they be allowed a profit 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 chief 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 cant 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 calls,Mehboob Ali refused to talk. When his staff was told about the issue,one of them,who did not identify himself,said that 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.
Mehboob Ali is the same minister whose supporters had brandished firearms and shot volleys of gunfire when he visited Amroha on March 19 after taking oath. The next day,Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav summoned a meeting of ministers and reprimanded Mehboob Ali. Six of his followers were expelled from the party.