Rice theft continues

Tapos Kanti Das | Published: 00:07, May 13,2020


Misappropriation of government rice, meant for distributing among the poor, continues though a good number of local government representatives and rice dealers and traders were arrested since the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

The Local Government Division on Tuesday suspended an Awami League-backed union parishad chairman in Habiganj and two members of separate unions in Rajshshi and Bhola for their alleged involvement in government rice misappropriation.

With the latest suspension, a total of 55 elected local government representatives — 20 UP chairmen, 33 UP members, one district council member and a municipal councilor— were suspended since the coronavirus outbreak in the country, according to LGD officials.

Since COVID-19 outbreak, at least 60 people, many of them are ruling AL leaders, were arrested so far for government rice theft.

Former advisor to the caretaker government M Hafiz Uddin Khan told New Age the situation occurred as the offenders were politically blessed and were not punished exemplarily for committing such offences earlier.

He said that the arrests and incidents of government rice thieving showed that theft by most of those arrested continued for long and that their theft were detected now as the people, losing their jobs due to shutdown, are now facing shortage of food and looking for relief or government rice.

He suspected that the actual number of rice thieves might be much higher than those arrested.

Transparency International Bangladesh executive director Iftekharuzzaman said, ‘Those who are involved in such heinous crime do not deserve to be treated as public representatives. They should be banned from politics and public representation. The party they belong to should feel humiliated and prosecute them for defamation of the party and the government. The law enforcers should take due action against them instead of harassing reporters or social media users for exposing such crimes.’

‘The ACC should take action against them for accumulating illegal wealth at the expense of public good. Only a good combination of such multi-pronged deterrent actions can stop and prevent such crime,’ he said.

Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader at a virtual press conference on Monday warned all concerned, including the AL leaders and activists, against irregularities in relief distribution activities.

On Tuesday, the Local Government Division suspended Nurpur union Parishad chairman Mukhlis Mia in Shayestaganj of Habiganj, Nimpara UP member Md Akbar Ali in Charghat upazila of Rajshahi and Ahammadpur UP member Md Kamal Hossain in Charfasson upazila of Bhola for irregularities in distributing relief materials.

Nurpur UP chairman Mukhlis is the assistant publicity secretary of Habiganj Sadar upazila AL unit, New Age correspondent from Sylhet reported, quoting the party leaders.

The Anti-Corruption Commission has so far sued six union parishad chairmen, eight UP members, a UP secretary and two government rice dealers for misappropriation of government rice, sources in ACC said.

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