Authorities Unconcerned As Inter-State Mafia Dictates Rates Even as the retail outlets of mutton in the city and elsewhere remained closed for the second day as part of 2-day strike by the dealers to force a further dose of price hike of the mass-consumption commodity, an inter-state mafia is understood to be active in mutton import into the valley and its sale at a premium. Quoting sources, local news gathering agency, KNS, said members of a network allegedly ignoring the officially fixed rates manipulated higher prices in outside wholesale markets and imported sheep and goat to the state for sale at their own prices. The mafia is believed to have monopolized the entire mutton trade with a view to making the commodity available to consumers at exorbitant prices. On its part, the agency said, the Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Department (CAPD) had failed to curb the clandestine operation. With the activities of the mutton mafia going unchecked, the consumers are made to cough up much higher prices for mutton. Talking to KNS, the acting president of Mutton Dealers Association, Meraj-ud-din Ganai, said the administration had reached an agreement with the mutton dealers last year and announced the agreed rates. However, because of the recalcitrance of the enforcing agencies, the mutton prices could not be maintained. After remaining active for about a month, the checking squads vanished from markets, he alleged. Ganai alleged the members of mutton mafia operating outside the state conducted their activities on fake licenses and illegally dictated the prices of sheep and goat imported into the valley. He said 70 per cent of the licenses issued by the CAPD were allegedly fake and even these had not been renewed by the competent authorities. The department has failed to curb the illegal operation of the mafia, he alleged. Meanwhile, the vice-president of Delhi-based Chinar Commission Agents Union, Muhammad Ilyas, said his organization was trying to neutralize the mutton mafia in Kashmir. However, the clandestine operation cannot be halted without the support of the state government and its administration which has not been forthcoming, he told KNS.
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