Amid controversy over slaughtering and regulation on livestock business, more than 10,000 cows were sold on Wednesday in the largest cattle fair of Northeast at bordering ports complex of Sonamura, the Muslim dominated town in west Tripura.
The cattle fair in Sonamura is an annual event ahead of Eid Ul Adha, the greatest festival of Muslim community is to be held in India on September 2 next this year. Like previous years, the market was opened in the early morning on Wednesday despite bad weather and to be continued till Thursday morning.
“Not only Muslims people from all communities across southern and western parts of Tripura assembled here to sell and buy livestock mainly cows and bulls ahead of the celebration. The administration arranged extra security besides, providing other basic minimum amenities to facilitate the market, which appeared to be a classic example of communal harmony,” said Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Sonamura Sumit Lodh.
He said, the market has been opened twice a year officially by sub divisional administration ahead of Eid Ul Adha and Dussera, the last day of ten daylong celebration of Durga puja by Hindus at the beginning of autumn. Hundreds of makeshift shed were opened to facilitate the buyers and sellers, he added.
Eid Ul Adha is the annual festival of Muslim where cattle are sacrificed to God. Sonamura is the house of both Hindu and Muslims but communally peaceful otherwise, hostile because of informal border trade with Bangladesh. Almost every week there is report of scuffle of villagers with BSF or detention of illegal migrants and seizure of contrabands in the villages of Sonamura.
“In the midst of debate over religious intolerance in India, the state sponsored cow marketing in Sonamura and sacrificing animals including buffalos and goats weekly to Goddess Kali in Tripureswari temple is an exception symbol of communal harmony,” said Abdul Sattar, a local journalist of Sonamura.
He pointed out that in the cattle fair both communities sell and buy livestock in the fair. Besides, hundreds of non-Muslim traders open temporary shop in the cattle fair. Many of the Hindu Brahmins have bought khasi (male goat) to celebrate Eid Ul Adha on the day along with Muslims, Sattar added.
“This is not the exception when Muslims are organising Durga puja, the greatest festival of the Bengali Hindu in Sonamura. This year also more 23 preparation of community Durga puja will be organised by Muslims along with Hindus barely after three weeks,” he added.
In the same place where the cattle fair is held today, all Durga idols of Sonamura will be assembled on the last day of celebration for immersion in the evening and in the morning they will be a regulate market for fish and meat. Add to the flavour, BJP workers have been seen volunteering the service in the cattle fair. They have arranged shed for the crowd and offer mineral waters and lemon juice to the thirsty people.