Mansurabad dealer Kamrul Hassan legally bought one tonne of onions from the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) on Thursday, but he went home instead of selling the kitchen ingredient at the designated spot.
Authorities monitoring the market attempted to get in touch with Kamrul throughout the day, but to no avail. A team deployed by the commerce ministry tracked him down later in the evening and forced him to sell the onions he had bought earlier.
Sources concerned said the dealer was planning to sell the onions in a retail market at a rate much higher than that fixed by the TCB. Kamrul's plan was foiled by the authorities and he was fined Tk30,000.
The TCB is offering onions for sale through dealers at Tk45 per kilogram in Dhaka, which is much cheaper than local onions currently being sold in retail markets for Tk220-230.
The Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection received allegations that many TCB dealers are taking advantage of the onion crisis by illegally selling off the kitchen ingredient for a hefty profit.
Under the circumstances, four ministries including the commerce ministry deployed teams to curb the illegal sale of TCB's onions. The teams are also monitoring the sale of onions in various markets.
On Thursday, nine such teams patrolled various spots throughout the capital to monitor onion sale. One of the teams caught Mansurabad dealer Kamrul Hassan red handed.
Responding to a query, the directorate's Assistant Director for the Dhaka district office Md Abdul Jabbar Mondol said, "Kamrul bought 1,000 kilograms (one tonne) of onions on Thursday morning, but he did not arrive at the designated spot to sell those.
"We then tried to find him with the help of local people. However, he was not reachable on phone until late evening. After we managed to get in touch with the dealer, we asked him to sell those onions immediately."
Abdul Jabbar, who was with the team that caught Kamrul, added that the authorities fined Kamrul Tk30,000 because he could not provide any reasonable explanation as to why he did not sell those onions.
Several officials of the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection said after receiving allegations of irregularities against dealers, the commerce ministry, home ministry, food ministry and agriculture ministry deployed multiple teams to monitor the markets.
The teams initially monitored the markets in Dhaka, but they failed to get any positive results. So, the teams are now supervising the sale of onions by the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.