They say the country’s biggest market for sacrificial animals only kicks off after Mohammad Jahangeer Chaudhry has entered Karachi. His herd is the first to step foot in the dusty tents of the grand ground off the superhighway.
Chaudhry has the honour of bringing the highest number of sacrificial animals to the cattle market for Eidul Azha. “I have brought 1,700 animals this time from Sahiwal, my hometown,” he told The Express Tribune, adding that he also buys from Bahawalpur and Lahore. They were transported in fifty trucks over a 12-day journey. The owner of Haji Allah Rakha Cattle Farm beamed that he managed to sell almost all of his stock (1,5000 animals) last year.
Chaudhry prefers to keep his herd in humble tents unlike other traders who prefer heavily decorated VVIP tents with fairy lights where groomed animals are tightly tied up for display. “I prefer to spend money on the fodder rather than ambiance,” he explained. “Mine are fed desi ghee and supplements. I believe that a beautiful animal doesn’t need pomp to sell.”
So significant is the Chaudhry family contribution to the market that a block has been named after his father, Allah Rakha, who devoted 20 years of his life to the business before he passed away two years ago.
Chaudhry claims that apart from the common man, cattle farmers are also buying animals from him but are selling them for twice the price in the same market. “The market is slow, but people are still coming,” he said. “However this year, people are paying us in advance to keep the animals in the mandi.” The people who choose this option don’t have space at home or fear being robbed.
Chaudhry admits that managing so many animals is hard, and indeed preparing each one for the market takes two and a half years. This is why he would rather take his stock back to the Punjab than sell at a loss. A team of 250 men look after the animals whose prices range from Rs150,000 to one million rupees. “The whole process requires energy, time and money. And therefore I believe my men and I should get the money we deserve.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2012.