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15 arrested in Bihar for salt shortage rumour

15 arrested in Bihar for salt shortage rumour

Patna: Fifteen people have been arrested in Bihar for allegedly spreading rumours of an acute shortage of salt in the state, causing prices to soar to Rs.150 a kg in a day, an official said Friday.

Salt normally sells for Rs.8-Rs.16, depending on its quality and brand.

Principal Secretary (Food and Civil Supplies) Sishir Sinha told reporters here Friday that 15 people were arrested for spreading rumours of an acute shortage of salt and alleged blackmarketing of salt from Darbhanga, Champaran's Bettaih, Barauni in Begusarai and Danapur in Patna districts since Thursday night.

"So far, police have lodged 21 cases (FIRs) in this connection," a police officer said, adding that more arrests were likely.

He said the state government has launched a massive campaign to check rumours and take action against people spreading rumours.

"We have succeeded in our drive to convince and assure people not to buy salt in panic," Sinha said, adding that the panic buying had stopped as people were assured that the state had adequate stocks.

"I have asked district authorities to lodge FIRs against the hoarders selling salt at rates above the maximum retail price under Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act," Bihar's Food and Civil Supply Minister Shyam Razak told IANS here.

The state government alerted officials and police Thursday after it was reported that salt was being sold at an exorbitant Rs.50 to Rs.150 per kg in parts of the state, amid rumours of acute shortage.

Rubbishing the rumours, Razak said that the reports were baseless.

"It is purely a rumour, nothing else. We have appealed to people not to purchase salt from the blackmarket by paying four to ten times its original price," he said.

Taking advantage of the rumours, traders and shopkeepers sold salt at higher prices.

"I have asked the concerned officials to inquire into the rumours and take action against those found responsible for it," the minister said.

Razak also said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was to blame for spreading rumours to defame the state government and foment a crisis.

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