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Bashundhara City traders and customs face-off over seized phones

  • Published at 06:12 pm May 19th, 2018
  • Last updated at 07:37 pm May 19th, 2018
Mobile phone shop owners surround a Customs Intelligence vehicle outside Bashundhara City on May 19, 2018 Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

The traders were disgruntled with the customs authorities for not providing any documents acknowledging how many phones were confiscated

A throng of mobile phone shop owners at Bashundhara City blocked the road in Panthapath near the Kawran Bazar intersection after customs authorities raided their shops and seized scores of mobile phones.

According to the shop owners, a Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID) team conducted a raid at the mall around 11:30am Saturday. They seized approximately 100 Apple iPhones and various from several shops.

Customs authorities inspect mobile phones at a store in Bashundhara City on May 19, 2018 Rajib Dhar/Dhaka TribuneThe traders blocked the lane going towards Kawran Bazar around 1:30pm to prevent the CIID officials from leaving with the seized phones. Some of the traders even lied down in front of the CIID vehicles to prevent them from leaving.

As the situation heated up, a team of the Rapid Action Battalion was deployed to drive away the furious traders and cleared the road around 3pm.

The shop owners alleged the customs officials did not provide any receipt of the seizure, much less let the traders count exactly how many phones were confiscated.

Bashundhara City security and RAB members disperse the outraged shopkeepers from blocking the customs team from leaving on May 19. 2018 Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune
CIID Additional Director General Kazi Muhammad Ziauddin said the CIID raid led to the confiscation of around 100 illegally imported iPhones worth Tk70 lakh to Tk80 lakh.

ADG Ziauddin said he met with the shop owners at 3:45pm for several hours.

After the meeting, he told the media that customs authorities have no conflicts with the shop owners. He claimed that 64 iPhones were seized from four stores. He said the owners will get back the phones if proper paperwork is submitted to them.

Bashundhara City Mobile Phone Shop Owners’ Association President Golam Kutubuddin told the Dhaka Tribune that there are no authorized iPhone sellers in Bangladesh, but the raid was influenced by people with vested interests. He also alleged the customs authorities did not provide any official documents before the raid was carried out.