MIRPUR (AJK) - Right from the beginning of Ramazan, the profiteers and hoarders have started fleecing the consumers through artificial price hike.

They have skyrocked the prices of commodities of daily use, especially edibles, by blatantly denying the rates fixed by the local authorities. At the same time, the  local authorities, instead of taking stringent measures to overcome the artificially-created dearness on the part of the profiteers and hoarders, asserted that they have decided to  establish special Ramazan bazaars in various parts of all AJK districts including the capital city of Muzaffarabad, divisional headquarters of Mirpur and Rawalakot.

The shopkeepers were charging the excessive cost of the items including meat, beef, chicken vegetables, fruit, soft drinks, milk, yogurt, mutton, beef, chicken, bread, eggs, of their own choice as against the rates fixed by the District Price Control Committee.

“The prices of almost all edible items have gone out of reach of the common man”, Zubair ul Hassan Jiraal, a low-paid government official said.  “We can’t think about taking meat even in a single meal”, said Zubair, who was much worried about the price hike.

He said that he had bought only six pieces of bananas at the rate of Rs300 per dozen. Before Ramazan it was available at only Rs120 per dozen.

AJK authorities asserted that they had established special Ramazan bazzars in various cities to ensure the required supply of edibles to the general consumers at subsidised rates during the holy month.

“Mirpur district administration decided to launch special Ramazan bazaars in various parts of Mirpur district including one at outside of Mirpur Cricket stadium,” Naib Tehsildar Ch Imran said.

Vendors will be bound to display the rate lists of the commodities, determined by the authorities,  at a visible place of their sale points, he said.

He said  that preventive steps were being taken by the administration to net the profiteers and hoarders. The official stated that an extensive drive had already been kicked off to overcome the price-hike on the part of the shopkeepers. Mobile teams headed by magistrates have already been constituted to conduct surprise checking of the prices and the shopkeepers - both wholesalers and retailers, involved in charging exorbitant rates would be booked.

Besides, general shopkeepers, the owners of the main shopping malls have also been warned to maintain the prices of the items of daily use - fixed by the administration -  during and even after the Holy month of Ramadan. “The violators would be taken to task under the law,” the magistrate warned.

Meanwhile a senior AJK government official said that all the district administrations in AJK have taken stringent measures to discourage profiteering, hoarding and artificial scarcity of edible items during and after the Holy month. He asserted that those involved in such unlawful exercise will be booked. “The sanctity of the holy month will be maintained in all circumstances,” the official declared.

“The government has ensured the availability of edibles including mutton, beef, chicken, sugar,  vegetables, fruit, flour, rice, pulses at reduced rates as fixed by the concerned district administrations,” the official said.