Patna/Kolkata: Authorities in states in the east and northeast launched a crackdown on rumour-mongering after panic buying of salt fed by rumours that it would disappear from markets led to its exorbitant price which today hit Rs 100 per kg in Darjeeling.
Fifteen people have been arrested and 21 FIRs lodged against those indulging in rumour-mongering about shortage of salt in various districts in Bihar, Principal Secretary (Food and Consumer Protection) Shishir Sinha told reporters in Patna.
Sinha said the profiling of the arrested persons was being done to find out their role in creation of artificial crisis about salt that triggered panic buying by the consumers.
More arrests and FIRs were likely in this connection, he said, adding the rumour mongers spread falsehood in a well coordinated manner in Odisha and Bihar.
"The artificial crisis about shortage of salt spread by the rumour mongers with vested interests has been successfully overcome in Bihar through a massive publicity blitz and crackdown against the hoarders and rumour mongers," Sinha said.
There has been no report of panic buying of salt from anywhere in Bihar and the consumers have been reported to be purchasing the commodity as per requirement at the rate of Minimum Retailed Price (MRP), he claimed.
Panic buying of salt over rumours that it would disappear from markets led to its price hitting Rs 100 per kg in Darjeeling, as the West Bengal government assured that there was no shortage and hoarders would be punished.
Reports of panic buying of salt were received from Darjeeling, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri districts in north Bengal.
"There is no shortage of salt in the districts as per the district administration and the food and supply department," an official statement said in Kolkata.
It advised people not to pay heed to rumours by `mischievous people for undue profit` and said the police have been instructed to take action against those spreading rumours and hoarding salt.
Rumours of salt shortages hit Meghalaya, Mizoram and other northeastern states with panic stricken people buying salt at exorbitant prices which forced the state government to launch an immediate crackdown and announce there is enough stock of salt in the state.