Tarek Mahmud, Chittagong
Around 70,000kg expired dates have already reached the kitchen markets in Chittagong city ahead of Ramadan, repackaged and carrying fake date of expiry, putting the health of thousands of people at risk.
The matter came to light yesterday when the Detective Branch of Chittagong Metropolitan Police conducted a raid at a cold storage in the city’s Chaitanyagoli area.
The detectives raided the cold storage, owned by Rownak Jahan who also owns East Asiatic Trading Corporation Limited, around 2pm following a tip-off. Led by Assistant Commissioner (North Zone) Mohammad Kamruzzaman, the team seized 6,000 cartons of out-of-date dates and 2,000 cartons of raisins that had been imported last year, as well as some stickers with fake expiration dates, in the three-hour raid.
Each carton of dates carries around 10kg of dates and each carton of raisins carries 10.5kg of raisins, the assistant commissioner said.
Following the drive, a mobile court led by Executive Magistrate and Assistant Commissioner Ashraful Alam of Chittagong district sealed off the cold storage.
He sentenced East Asiatic Trading Corporation Limited’s Manager advocate SK Dutta, 70, to a year of jail and charged him a Tk50,000 fine.
The court also sentenced three persons – Dolon Barua, 32, Mahbubur Rahman, 40, and Nazim Uddin, 29 – to six months in jail; the convicts are employees of a trader named Aziz, who owns 3,000 cartons of the expired dates.
Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, the cold storage Office Assistant AK Mollik said a trader named Nurul Kabir Chowdhury imported some 13,329 cartons of dates – 10kg in each carton – and stored them in the cold storage on July 22 last year.
Later, Nurul sold the dates to different traders, who started collecting their purchases in May this year. Aziz, however, sent his men to relabel the packages of his purchase, said DB Sub-Inspector Santosh Kumar Chakma.
By the time the detectives raided the cold storage, more than 70,000kg of expired dates had already been dispatched to different stores and markets by some ill-motivated traders, he said.
Executive Magistrate Ashraful said they found expired dates, raisins, almonds and other products imported by nine traders.
He said the drives would continue and the products found in cold storages would be examined further.
According to Chittagong District Administration, Chittagong City Corporation, Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution and other bodies, a total of 20 mobile courts are roaming around the port city to prevent trading and consumption of sub-standard food items during Ramadan.
Source: Dhaka Tribune