Around 200 vegetable sellers in three haats suffer losses
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Malda, 12 November
After an aggrieved mob looted three haats (large weekly markets) and the stock of around 200 vegetable sellers consecutively in different parts of the district, deeply concerned ministers, Sabitri Mitra and Krishnendu Choudhury, asked the district administrations to convene a meeting of the task force on war-footing to discuss the situation.
While the retail vegetable traders have been reeling under acute insecurity anticipating further deterioration of the situation, superintendent of police Mr Kalyan Mukherjee abstained from commenting on the matter.
That the situation may go beyond control was guessed after a scuffle occurred at Sobhanagar between the traders and the buyers yesterday. Today, as anticipated, situation worsened and aggrieved customers started looting the haats.
As potatoes were allegedly being sold at Rs 18 per kg violating the state government determined rate of Rs 13 per kg, infuriated customers reportedly looted the large vegetable market at Dharampur under Manikchak police station. It was learnt that cauliflower and cabbage were being sold at Rs 35 per kg and the brinjals at the rate of Rs 40 per kg. Even spinach and other edible vegetables were sold at Rs 80 to Rs 120 per kg.
Though such formidable prices initially stunned the customers, soon they started looting stock of hundreds of vegetable sellers and anarchy gripped the market in moments. Atb around 8 a.m., the fiasco began and within merely 20 minutes the mob snatched away the entire stock of the vegetables.
Mr Fagu Mandal, a vegetable trader, said that his entire stock of 25 kg of cabbage was looted by the mob. The mob also looted 14 kg of spinach and 20 kg of brinjal owned by one Mr Jiaul Sheikh. Gripped by an acute sense of insecurity they fled from the market.
The secretary of Dharampur traders’ association, Mr Brajen Lala, said: “Sometime after I opened my shop of garments, to my utter dismay I found that agitated by the price of vegetables, the mob started looting the entire market. I too hurriedly shut down my shop to avoid the mob’s fury.”
Similar incidents were reported from Achintola and Balupur haat in Ratua today. In those two markets, potatoes was the target of the mob.
The excited buyers claim that though the farmers are being deprived of their dues, a section of brokers have indulged in black-marketing by piling hoards of vegetables.
President of Malda Merchant Chamber of Commerce, Mr Jayanta Kundu, in a letter to the Malda SP Mr Mukherjee stated that no police action was taken even after massive looting in three haats in Malda today. Mr Kundu, further threatened in writing that recurrence of such incidents would lead to shortage of vegetables in the market. However, he admitted that price of vegetables had gone beyond the means of common people.
Additional district magistrate (general), Mr NK Biswas, conceded looting of vegetable in three markets in Malda. He claimed that police and block administration rushed to the spots to control the situation. Block development officers were asked to monitor the markets to prevent recurrence of such incidents.