Three traders were arrested as the price of salt skyrocketed in Bihar to Rs 150 a kg on Thursday as against the normal range of Rs 4 to Rs 15 (depending on the brand) after some reports claiming serious shortage of salt started circulating in the state.
Clashes between the people and shopkeepers were reported from Samastipur and Vaishali even as minister for food and civil supplies, Shyam Razak convened an emergency meeting and asked the administration and police to take steps to prevent hoarding and black marketing of salt.
Razak said, “Three traders have been arrested in Darbhanga. District magistrates have been asked to lodge FIRs against hoarders selling salt above maximum retail price (MRP) under section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act,” he said. Assuring people that there was no paucity of salt in the state, Razak said that communal forces were trying to create panic by spreading rumours about the scarcity of the essential commodity and create a law and order situation.
“There is a clear strategy at work”, said Razak, while addressing his departmental officials. He said, “Communal parties want to create a stir and have managed to set off the panic, which now threatens to snowball into a serious law and order problem”.
In Patna, people went to shops to buy salt even as the Vyavasayi Sangh — (a traders organisation) said there was no shortage of the item. Samastipur district magistrate Navin Chandra Jha ordered the marketing officers of the district and SDO to inquire into the matter and take stern action against the culprits.
Spokesman of the Maroofganj traders association Vinay Agrahari said in Patna, that there was no crisis of salt as such in the state. Some reports from Khagaria, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi and Vaishali suggested that salt was being sold at Rs 700 per sack instead of Rs 170.