Red meat merchants in Dhaka have claimed they have been forced to raise the price of red meat due to irregularities such as extortion and unsanctioned taxes collected by the leaseholders of the Gabtoli cattle market in the capital.
They made the allegation at a press conference held at Kaptan Bazar kitchen market in Dhaka on Wednesday, which marks day three of their ongoing weeklong strike enforced from February 13-18.
Leaders of the Dhaka Metropolitan Meat Merchant Association and Dhaka Metropolitan North-South Mutton Traders Association jointly organised the conference to explain their reasoning behind the strike.
The merchants also said the strike will end this Saturday, and any new measures by the movement would be announced on Sunday if Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) authorities do not act against the leaseholders.
Also Read- Weeklong red meat strike
“We imposed the ongoing strike not for our own interests but that of the public. If we want to, we can raise red meat prices after justifying the overall cost of the cattle to the city corporation. However, the burden will fall on Dhaka residents who will have to pay extra,” said Rabiul Alam, convener of Dhaka Metropolitan Meat Merchant Association.
“This is why we took to the roads in protest to maintain the reasonable price of red meat,” he said.
Apologising to Dhaka’s denizens for the momentary trouble caused by their strike, he requested DNCC authorities to take appropriate steps to put a stop to the extortion; otherwise, the merchants would permanently shut down their businesses and engage in other trades.
Last Sunday, the red meat merchants had announced the strike to protest extortion at Gabtoli market.
They further alleged the leaseholders at Gabtoli had even hired enforcers to threaten them if they refuse to pay.
Robiul Islam alleged they have to pay between Tk20,000-Tk30,000 as extortion money to bring each cow from the borders to Dhaka, and further excessive revenue to the leaseholders.
Chief Estate Officer of DNCC Aminul Islam told the Dhaka Tribune that the city corporation would take proper steps to solve the problem.
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A butcher's shop in Dhaka displaying the flanks of slaughtered cows Dhaka Tribune
incrIn reply to a query about this issue, DSCC Mayor Sayeed Khokon declined to remark on the meat merchant strike. At a press conference in Nagar Bhaban on Wednesday, he said, as the Gabtoli market is located under DNCC jurisdiction, its mayor Annisul Huq is handling the matter well.