The Kashmir valley is facing an acute shortage of mutton since the government fixed its retail price at Rs 480 per kg. Accusing the government of forcing them to sell at a loss, mutton dealers are on indefinite strike. Last November, before prices were fixed for the first time in six years, mutton was being sold at Rs 600 per kg. “For the past four months, mutton shops across Kashmir are closed as the government is asking us to incur losses,” says Meraj-ud-Din Ganai, general secretary, All Jammu and Kashmir Mutton Dealers Association. “They are not taking electricity and water bills, shop rent and transportation charges into consideration while fixing the price.”
The dealers say they procure mutton from outside the Valley, including other states like Rajasthan, at an average cost of Rs 519 per kg and earn a margin of Rs 22, while the retailers add Rs 50 to the selling price, taking it to Rs 591. They describe a retail price between Rs 550 and Rs 600 as reasonable. In February, the mutton dealers took a team of local journalists to different states to ascertain the prices of mutton outside Kashmir. The team concurred with the views of the dealers.