Panic buying of salt in Bihar
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There was panic buying of salt in four Bihar districts following rumours which led to the arrest of three persons and left the state Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Shyam Rajak blaming opposition BJP for it.
"An unsubstantiated rumour has spread in Darbhanga, Sitamarhi, Samastipur and Madhubani districts about shortage of salt in the market due to reduced supply of the commodity from Gujarat prompting the consumers to panic and buy it for Rs 70 per kg at some places," he told reporters at a hurriedly convened press conference.
Three persons were arrested for spreading rumours about shortage of salt after he directed officials of the affected districts to probe the situation and crack down on the hoarders, Rajak said.
The arrested persons have been booked under provisions of Essential Commodities Act and were being interrogated by local police officers, Rajak said.
The department officers made public announcements about abundant availability of salt in the market at prescribed rates and consumers stopped the panic buying, he said. Rajak lashed out at BJP for spreading the rumour to destabilise the JD(U) government in Bihar.
"The BJP and its affiliate organisations are proven masters of rumour mongering and the rumour about shortage of salt was no exception," he said and warned the opposition party of stern action if its involvement was proved.
Principal Secretary (Food and Consumer Affairs) Shishir Sinha told reporters that the rumour about shortage of salt had started yesterday and gained currency today in districts like Muzaffarpur, West Champaran, Sitamarhi, Samastipur, Darbhanga and Supaul located on the Indo-Nepal border.
This created panic among the people who purchased salt in bulk.
The state government had to swing into action and a campaign was launched by the district magistrates to reassure the people, he said and blamed 'mischievous elements' for spreading false rumours about shortage of salt in some districts in a 'well organised manner'.