Five hoarders held in Manikchak and Ratua, price reaches Rs 200 per kg compared to normal rate of Rs 7 per kg
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Malda/ Raiganj/ Balurghat, 15 November
Rumour of scarcity triggered a crisis of salt across north Bengal, goading panicky people to throng the markets to collect the kitchen essential.
The crisis was grim particularly in Malda. Five hoarders were arrested from Manikchak and Ratua on charge of fanning rumours after several shops were looted. Here, the price spiralled to Rs 200 a kg as compared to the normal price being Rs 7 a kg. 
The Congress MP from Malda north, Mrs Mausam Noor, staged an agitation in front of the district administrative headquarters, demanding measures to curb the price.
The social welfare minister, Mrs Sabitri Mitra, the DM, Mr Godala Kiran Kumar and SP, Mr Kalyan Mukherjee met members of the Merchants Chambers of Commerce in the morning.
Police picket was posted in the large markets. The trio also inspected some salt-holding godowns.
The situation was grave in north and south Dinajpur too. The item was sold at prices as high as Rs 80 a kg. Police detained eight persons from Itahar and Hemtabad for selling salt at exorbitant prices. Chaos reigned near Chawrasta in Itahar. Police resorted to lathi-charge.
The district magistrate, Mr P N Bhutiya said the district has a stock of around 2,500 metric tons, sufficient for several months.
The picture was the same in the retail markets in Gangarampur, Buniadpur and Kushmandi ~ all in south Dinajpur.
The additional district magistrate, general, Mr S K Tikader, said strict action would be taken against the traders selling salt at
higher prices.