Srinagar, Oct 23 (IANS) As the holy fasting month of Ramadan nears its end, markets in Jammu and Kashmir are teeming with shoppers in preparation for the Eid-ul-Fitr festivities, buying clothes, food items and firecrackers - all exorbitantly priced.
Those who benefit the most in this feverish festival-eve buying in the state's summer capital Srinagar are the unscrupulous traders and shopkeepers who quote high rates for the goods.
Markets in both the uptown Civil Lines area and the densely populated downtown are full of shoppers today. Mutton, poultry, bakery and clothes are the most sought after items.
'The rates of poultry have suddenly gone up from the earlier Rs.42 a kilogram to Rs.52. There is no logic in this, unless the aim is to benefit unscrupulous dealers in the poultry trade,' said Farooq Abbas, 48, a resident of the Zadibal area in the downtown city.
A prominent vernacular daily has a story about the administration permitting the sale of 'layer poultry' in the Kashmir Valley that is reportedly banned outside the state for human consumption. The newspaper charged a minister with accepting gratification for allowing the sale of such poultry, which it said was being sold as 'dog food' in other states.
Vegetable prices have also touched the sky with vendors charging Rs.40 a kg for tomatoes. 'Who can buy vegetables at these rates? At least not an honest government servant' said Feroze Ahmed, 42, a deputy secretary in the state government.
Though the administration claims to have set up special price control squads to check profiteering, the shops are dictating their own prices with the same commodity priced differently in neighbouring shops.
In the city's Maharaja Bazaar area, barely half a kilometre away from the civil secretariat that houses the offices of Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and his cabinet colleagues, the mirror carp fish is being sold at prices ranging from Rs.150 a kg to Rs.120 a kg to Rs.80 a kg, depending upon the buyer's purse.
Locals are upset at the shortage of sugar at the various ration outlets run by the local consumer affairs department. According to sources in the department, instead of the required 38,000 quintals of sugar the department had so far been able to arrange only 14,000 quintals though the Eid festival is just a day away.
The bakery shops are virtually flooded with people, jostling and pushing one another.
'Looks as if there is going to be no tomorrow,' said a dejected Abdul Salam, 52, who had to return empty-handed as his favourite bakery in the Residency Road area had sold the last loaf of bread before he could reach the shop counter.