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Dealer’s house under siege

Malda, Oct. 8: Villagers of Bhagabanpur in Harishchandrapur have laid siege to the local ration dealer’s house for the past three days, demanding that his licence be revoked for alleged malpractice.

The demonstrators are taking turns to keep a watch on the dealer, Malek Hossain. At any given time, 150-175 people can be found around Hossain’s house.

According to the allegations, Hossain has become rich over the years by selling in the open market rice, wheat, sugar and kerosene meant for the public distribution system.

The villagers alleged that the 6,400 ration card-holders in Hossain’s control never get receipts for what they pay for the ration. They further claimed that local CPM leaders were “directly involved in the corrupt practices indulged in by the ration dealer”.

“We want Hossain’s licence revoked,” a protester said.

Hossain, however, said no one had ever demanded receipts. “Now that they have raised the complaint, I shall definitely print receipts. But it is not true that I sold goods meant for the ration store in the open market.”

Local Forward Bloc MLA Tazmul Hossain accused the district administration of sitting on its hands. “The situation may go out of control any moment. But the administration is not doing anything,” the MLA said.

A spokesperson for the administration, however, said they were keeping a close watch on the developments in Bhagabanpur. A police picket has been posted in front of the house of the dealer, he added.

Malda food controller Nilkamal Saha said he would send a food inspector to Hossain’s ration shop at Bhagabanpur for an inquiry.

Trinamul Congress supporters today gheraoed all block development officers of the district to protest against alleged corruption in the public distribution system.

In the afternoon, they took out a procession in Malda town. Slogans like “Khaddyo chai, khaddyo dao (We want food, give us food)” rent the air as the marchers approached the block development office of Englishbazar.

Local Trinamul leaders also addressed a public gathering and blamed the CPM for the present situation.

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