Mango traders and growers of Chapainawabganj have extended their support to retail fruit traders of the capital protesting the ongoing drive against chemical-laced fruits, which has stirred a controversy surrounding the device being used to detect adulteration.
As fruit vendors yesterday observed the first day of an indefinite strike in Dhaka, mango growers threatened to enforce a hartal in Chapainawabganj district on Sunday if law enforcers do not stop the drive launched on June 11.
The traders demanded the prime minister's attention to the matter, claiming that they had never treated fruits with formalin but law enforcers were destroying their goods on test with faulty devices.
Meanwhile, a team of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) yesterday conducted a drive against unauthorised sales of formalin. During the drive, they seized a huge amount of the chemical in the capital's Chankharpool.
Fruit traders, mango growers and distributors said the drive against adulterated fruits was intended to harass them.
Most of the fruit outlets in the capital remained closed on the first day of the strike called by Dhaka Metropolitan Fruit Traders Association.
All the big fruit markets in Hatirpool, Mohammadpur, Mirpur, Gulshan, Banani and Uttara were closed, said Sana Ullah, president of the association.
The strike will continue until the government stops harassing fruit traders in the name of the drive, he added.
Fruit vendors will also organise a human chain on Saturday in front of the Jatiya Press Club in the capital.
Some wholesale markets in Karwan Bazar and Badamtali, however, were open yesterday.
“We have made a vow that we will only sell chemical-free, fresh fruits. So we are not afraid of law enforcers and the drive and have kept our businesses open,” said ASM Mahbubul Alam alias Hazi Babul, president of Karwan Bazar wholesale fruits market.
He added that the traders of the market had been observing the situation and that their business was not very bad on the first day of the strike.
Meanwhile, several hundred mango traders and growers brought out a procession under the banner of Chapainawabganj Chamber of Commerce and Industry from Eidgah in Nimtala of Chapainawabganj town.
Later, they submitted a memorandum to the prime minister through the deputy commissioner, reported our Chapainawabganj correspondent.
As many as 100 trucks of mangoes valued at Tk 30 crore have so far been destroyed across the country and a number of mango traders have been fined and jailed, fruit vendors said.
The protesters also alleged that law enforcers were taking bribes from them in the name of testing fruits for formalin.
The DSCC team led by Executive Magistrate Atul Chandra seized 40 drums and 80 cartons full of formalin bottles while raiding a five-storey chemical warehouse near the Chankharpool crossing.
Atul said two unregistered companies named Nazifa Chemicals and Nasir Chemicals were using the place to trade in formalin without any permission.
He added that the authorities had identified 12 spots in the capital, where formalin was being sold secretly, and stated that all those places would be raided gradually.