Ruling Awami League is left embarrassed as incidents of thefts of relief materials by party activists continued across the country amid the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, according to AL leaders.
In the face of growing number of incidents of misappropriation and theft of relief materials by AL leaders in recent days, AL general secretary Obaidul Quader and AL joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif on Saturday issued separate statements cautioning the people involved in misappropriation and theft. They warned them of punitive actions.
Several Awami League leaders told New Age that they were surprised and embarrassed over such unethical activities of the grassroots leaders, activists and public representatives.
On Saturday, Rapid Action Battalion arrested Gopinathpur union AL president Md Al Israil Jubel from Gopinathpur under Akkelpur in Jaipurhat and seized about 23,000 kg of government rice, allocated for different government project, from his possession, New Age correspondent in the district reported, quoting MM Mohaimenur Rashid, camp commander of Joypurhat RAB-5.
Quoting Khetlal police station officer-in-charge Siddiqur Rahman, he also reported that police lodged a case against AL activist Abdul Malek of Phuldighi after seizing 1,150 kg of government rice to be sold at Tk 10 among the poor.
New Age correspondent in Bogura, quoting Shibganj police station officer-in-charge Mizanur Rahman, reported that police arrested Mustafizur Rahman of Ganakpara under Shibganj in the district and seized 102 sacks of rice allocated for the food ministry’s food friendly programme from his house.
Reportedly, about 1,500 sacks, or 4,500 kg, of rice allocated for relief under vulnerable group feeding and social safety net programme were recovered by law enforcement agencies since Wednesday night.
Of the recovered rice, a portion has also been stolen from the allocation of open market sale for distribution at Tk 10 per kg among poor people.
Thakurgaon’s Baliadangi Upazila Food Controller Nikhil Chandra Barman filed a case on Thursday night against six people, including a union parishad member, at Baliadangi police over the seizure of 630 sacks of government rice.
The accused are — UP member Kulsum Begum, Panna Kawser, Amirul Islam, Samirul Islam, Abdur Rashid and Jamirul Islam.
The upazila administration in another drive seized 269 more sacks of rice, said Khairul Alam Sumon, Baliadangi upazila nirbahi officer.
Following the incident, five warehouses of two mills have been seized, he added.
In another incident on Wednesday, a mobile court sentenced a local Awami League leader and a businessman to one month jail each for misappropriating 1,440 kg of rice meant for relief in Singra upazila of Natore, our Natore correspondent reports.
In his statement Obaidul Quader, also road transport and bridges minister, said that his party will not allow any irregularities and unethical practice over relief distribution.
He said that exemplary punishment would be given to people involved in such irregularities.
Hanif said that such allegation of misappropriation of relief materials was embarrassing and it surprised him.
Terming the people involved in the theft ‘human-looking animal’, he requested the deputy commissioners to take necessary steps to prevent such embezzlement of relief.
He also demanded legal action against the embezzlers.
Earlier on Friday, the Anti-Corruption Commission has instructed its field-level officials to keep relief distribution activities under their surveillance as the commission was informed that a section of people was involved in misappropriation of relief materials meant for the people facing food crisis amid the COVID-19 situation.
On March 31, addressing a video conference from her official residence Ganobhaban, prime minister Sheikh Hasina warned that irregularity in distributing relief materials among the poor during the crisis would not be tolerated.
On Thursday, police arrested a Krishak League leader Mithu Mandal, 35, from his village home at Dari Hanshraj under Sonatala upazila in Bogura, he had in possession 50 sacks of government rice to be sold among the poor at Tk 10 a kg, New Age correspondent in the district reported, quoting Sonatala police station officer-in-charge Abdullah Al Maswood Chowdhury.
Reports received from districts said that over a dozen of local AL leaders and activists were arrested in different parts of the country since March 31 over food relief theft.
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