Local administrations and law enforcers have recovered 78.5 tonnes of relief rice, which were recently smuggled out of government storage facilities in two districts.
The recoveries were made in Sirajganj and Rangpur. Six people including a union parishad chairman and three rice traders were also arrested.
Officials said the food grain was stored under the Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF) programme and meant for free distribution among the ultra-poor ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr. The market price of the total amount is about Tk 28.5 lakh.
Acting on a tip-off, Assistant Commissioner (AC-Land) Md Anisur Rahman of Sirajganj sadar upazila raided Janani Rice Mill in Barakandi village on Wednesday night, and seized 665 bags of rice (each bag carrying 30kg).
The rice was stored at the government-run Bhangura local supply depot and was supposed to be distributed in Chatmohar upazila in Pabna, the official said.
Contractor Abul Kashem, who was appointed to conduct the distribution, stole the rice and sold it to the rice mill in Sirajganj, he added.
In separate drives, the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and police seized 600 bags of stolen rice in Rangpur on Wednesday night and arrested four people.
The arrestees are Sadyapuskarani UP Chairman Sohel Rana, rice trader Ansarul Islam, and easy-bike drivers Nayan Chandra Roy and Millat Ali.
Mozammel Haque, commanding officer of Rab-13, said they raided a storehouse in Palichhara village of Rangpur sadar upazila and recovered 579 bags of rice. The team also arrested chairman Sohel and rice trader Ansarul.
Tajhat police made a recovery of 21 bags of rice while the easy-bike riders were taking them away from a private warehouse in Darshana area of Rangpur city.
Rokonuzzaman, officer-in-charge of Tajhat Police Station, said the rice was supposed to be distributed from this warehouse to the poor.
Meanwhile, a mobile court seized 877 bags of rice from a private storehouse and arrested two rice traders in Mirpur village of Sirajganj sadar upazila on Tuesday.
The arrestees, Abu Siddique, 49, and Abdus Salam, 45, both from Mirpur village, were sent to jail the next day.
“The two men took the rice illegally from a government storehouse in Belkuchi upazila,” said Upazila Nirbahi Officer Md Raihan, who led the mobile court.
Another raid was conducted in a warehouse owned by rice trader Belal Hossain in Tarash upazila of Sirajganj, and 475 bags of VGF rice were recovered. Upazila nirbahi officer Iffat Jahan led the drive.
(Our Pabna and Rangpur correspondents contributed to the report.)