The sacrificial meat business | Pakistan Today

The sacrificial meat business

Drive through Lahore Canal Road, walk in Linear Park alias Nawaz Sharif Park or cross the Ravi Bridge, you’ll find cycle walas selling packets of red colored meat which people buy and throw away are circumbulating it around their head and feeding it to carnivorous birds. The buyers call it “sadqa” and keeps troubles away from them. The number of meat vendors has risen exponentially in near past showing that business at its peak. The meat sold for sadqa comes from cow lungs which the vendors mostly buy from Bakarmandi.
Growing competition: One such meat vendor Irfan spoke to Pakistan Today near Muslim Town underpass on Canal Road. He said he was in the business for two years. He revealed he bought a pair of lungs for Rs 250 to 300 from bakarmandi and sold a packet for Rs 5 or Rs 10 depending upon purchase price. “The rate keeps fluctuating with beef price,” said Irfan.
He shops for the meat twice a week and stock turn tends to be three to four days. The freshness and original color remains for half a day then meat gets stale and dark colored losing its original red color. “Vendors use artificial colors to make it look red like fresh,” Irfan revealed.
We use edible colours: When he was asked to confirm some news reports that these colors include arsenic and other deadly chemicals which are dangerous for lives of birds eating them, he denied and said that they use edible colous only. Revealing his business secrets, he said it was a profitable business in past, but in last few months with more people coming to it; daily income had come down. “Earlier I earned up to 400 per day, but now I earn half of it and sometimes not more than Rs 100,” he said.
Escaped an accident: While talking to Irfan, a bike rider came and bought a packet of meat to give sadqaa. He told he escaped an accident at underpass and that is why he was offering sadqaa. He said it is his belief that it would keep troubles and problems at arm’s length from him.
A cycle wala Khalid found with his cycle at Ravi Bridge said, “We get our income and birds like crows and kites get their food.” He told he was earning Rs 300 to 350 per day and his 7 members family is being fed through this income only. He avoided talking in details saying it disturbs the business.
Mohammad Ali, another meat seller near Dharampura Underpass at Canal Road said his brother in law owns a butcher shop from where he gets lung meat and sells it at Rs 10, earning almost Rs 200 a day.
He said that in past few months there has been a sharp rise in number of vendors which has affected the sale inversely. “Earlier there used to be one or two persons around an underpass, but now you are seeing 8 to 10 people standing around a single bridge,” He said pointing his hand to row of meat vendors.
Roots in religion? Saad Siddiqui, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at Sheikh Zayed Islamic Center Punjab University, denied that such forms of charity have religious roots. Psychologist Saima Majeed speaking to Pakistan Today said fear of insecurity is one of major reasons why people believe in myths and link them with religion.

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