The government has taken a strong stand against corruption and extortion, even if these crimes are committed by policemen, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said on Sunday.
He said if a police member is found guilty of extortion or corruption, the government will take immediate and tough action against him or her, while speaking at a discussion on the prices of essential commodities and the law and order situation during Ramadan.
The discussion was organized by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) in Dhaka.
Several trade leaders who attended the discussion complained that they were frequently extorted by different groups when they transport and trade in essential commodities during Ramadan, which leads to the raised price of essential commodities.
Some of the extortionists are members of the police force, they alleged.
In response, the minister said: “The government will show zero tolerance towards the extortionists – be it policemen or civilians.”
Addressing the discussion, DCCI President Abul Kasem Khan said according to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), prices of essential commodities had increased by 17.51% between April and May in 2017 – ahead of Ramadan – and the major reasons behind the hike were lack of market monitoring, extortion in transportation sector, excessive traffic congestion, and increase of transportation cost.
He further said this year, the average inflation rate is 5.82% and the food inflation is already 7.13%.
If the government reduces tariff and duty on essential commodities, strongly handles the extortion and find ways to manage traffic jams in the city and on the highways, traders will be able to reduce the prices of these goods, he added.
The home minister urged drivers of goods-carrying vehicles to abide by all traffic and road safety rules to avoid checking by highway police.
He said the drivers should carry legal and updated documents, not overload their vehicles with extra goods, and follow all the rules so the highway police have no scope to flag them down and check their vehicles.
“The development of our country is dependent on you. Be sincere and honest when conducting business, especially during the month of Ramadan.
“If you see or experience policemen committing any unlawful act, do not hesitate to report them. The authorities will look into the matter,” he added.
The home minister further said mobile courts would be deployed during Ramadan to inspect the markets.
Dr Zia Rahman, professor of criminology at Dhaka University, presented the keynote paper at the discussion. Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Ghulam Rahman attended the event as special guest. Members of the DCCI were present at the event as well.