Sixty-three tonnes of illegal rice was found at Central Supply Depot of the directorate of food at Halishahar in Chittagong on Wednesday, a day after seizure of huge of rice allegedly stolen from the government warehouse in the port city.
A three-member committee, formed on Tuesday to investigate the allegation of stealing rice from the government depot, found the presence of rice beyond its stock on Wednesday, said food officials.
Members of Rapid Action Battalion seized one more truck loaded with government rice in Chittagong city in Wednesday afternoon.
RAB-7 Chittagong senior assistant director Mimtanur Rahman said they seized the truck left abandoned from the city’s Akber Shah Area around 5:30pm with 13.5 tonnes of government rice in 270 sacks.
He said the battalion members on Tuesday seized seven trucks loaded with 155 tonnes of government rice from the city’s Halishahar and Kattali areas and detained five people including a food official in this connection.
CSD manager Pranayan Chakma and transport workers engaged in carrying the rice were detained Tuesday.
A strong syndicate comprising some errant food officials and traders was engaged in illegal business centring the government silo and they might have kept the rice as part of their illegal business, several officials said.
RAB officials claimed that Pranayan and his aides took the government rice out of the government warehouse to sell the staple in market, which was illegal.
Chittagong regional food controller Mahbubur Rahman said they formed a three-member body, led by Chittagong district food controller Md Jahirul Isam, to investigate the allegation.
‘I received primary probe report where it was mentioned that stock of rice at CSD was found 2,167 tonnes when it was supposed to be 2,104 tonnes, according to our documents. We found 63 toones of rice more on our exact stock,’ said Mahbubur.
He said they deposited the illegal rice to the government account.
‘From now the rice is being treated as government rice though it was found illegally inside the depot,’ said the food official.
‘We suspect CSD manager Pranayan Chakma in collaboration with outsiders kept the rice as a part of their illegal business,’ he added.
The food official also said a syndicate comprising a section of food officials and some rice traders was active there.
The rice traders buy rice from government-enlisted dealers and kept those at the government warehouse which was illegal, said Mahbubur.
He said the rice which RAB seized from outside the warehouse might have been kept at the warehouse by rice traders managing employees concerned.
‘But we are not yet sure if the seized rice went outside from our warehouse. Law enforcers will find out the matter,’ said Mahbubur.
Deputy director of RAB-7 Lt Ashequr Rahman told New Age that the rice that they seized on Tuesday from Halishahar and Kattali areas in the city was government rice.
Halishahar CSD manager Pranayan Chakma and assistant manager Fakhrul Alam took the rice out of the government warehouse to sell it in market illegally, said Ashequr.
He said they filed a case with Halishahar police in this connection and handed over the detainees and the seized rice to the police.
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