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Dhaka Tribune

Nasim seeks death penalty for food adulterators

Several other speakers also spoke in favor of meting out capital punishment to food adulterators at a roundtable discussion on Monday

Update : 27 May 2019, 11:45 PM

Branding food adulterators as the biggest terrorists in society, former Health Minister and senior ruling party leader Mohammad Nasim has demanded capital punishment for the offenders.

Other speakers also echoed Nasim's sentiment at a roundtable discussion on safe food on Monday, seeking maximum punishment for food adulterators as part of a move to ensure safe food for people, reports UNB.

"Those who adulterate food during this month of Ramadan should be awarded death sentences, as they are killing a huge number of people by contaminating food," Nasim said. "They are the biggest terrorists in society," Nasim said.

Bhejal O Madak Birodhi Andolon, a platform against food adulteration and drug abuse, arranged the program at the National Press Club.

Nasim, also the spokesman of the ruling 14-party alliance, said launching a social movement is necessary to ensure safe food and to get rid of the malpractice by food traders.

He said many people are suffering from various diseases, including cancer and kidney failure, due to food adulteration. "Why do you (traders) adulterate food when so many people are getting sick consuming them?"

The Awami League leader said traders in West Bengal of India cannot sell any fish unless tested by sanitary inspectors. "But our sanitary inspectors do not work. They only wait to collect their salary at the end of month."

Nasim remarked the businesses should come forward to stop food adulteration.

He also questioned as to why the business bodies, including the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), do not suspend the membership of adulterators from their associations.

"I think the level of food adulteration can be reduced substantially if the court gives these offenders capital punishment," Nasim said.

The former minister urged the home minister to take the issue seriously and ensure stern action against those involved in contaminating food.

He thanked the media for continuing a strong campaign to stop food adulteration in the country.

Nasim lamented on the lack of humanity among the food traders and owners of superstores.

"It is difficult to get any food item free from adulteration in the country," he said. "Even medicine companies are indulging in adulteration."

He observed that a few food adulterators got involved with the Awami League – who has been in power for a long time – to get away with their activities. "So, we must drop them from the party."

Former Industries Minister Dilip Barua said many people are now being forced to go abroad, selling their land and valuable property, to receive treatment for various diseases caused by the consumption of contaminated food.

Alongside taking stern action against those involved in food adulteration, a strong social movement need to be waged to free the nation from this menace, he said.

Claiming that sexual violence, drug abuse and food adulteration are on the rise in the country, former Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu underscored the need for strict enforcement of laws to get rid of these menaces. 

He also said he will place the food adulteration issue in the parliament soon. 

"If you can punish drug traders and war criminals, why can you not punish food adulterators?" Inu asked the government.

He also urged politicians not to support the food adulterators.

Agricultural scientist Dr Ali Afzal said lots of chemicals are mixed in food items. "Even unscrupulous millers make adulterated rice," he said, adding that the government should strictly enforce laws to ensure safe food. 

He also urged law enforcement and media to come forward to bring this to an end.

Dhaka University's Pharmaceutical Technology Department chairman, ABM Faroque, said the number of cancer patients will decrease by 50% in the country if safe food can be ensured for all.

"There are at least 19 colours mixed with our food," Faroque said. "A strong institute needs to be established to ensure food security, which should be kept out of political influence." 

Among others, Chairman of Bangladesh Press Council Justice Momtaz Uddin Ahmed, and Crime Reporters Association of Bangladesh (Crab) President Abul Khair talked at the roundtable discussion. 

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