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first_imgThe site of the horrific accident on a mountainous road in Al-Baha province on Saturday evening that left three Bangladehis among nine killed.Nine workers, including three Bangladeshis, were killed and six others injured in a road accident in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.The Bangladeshi nationals were identified as Malam Mia, Alam Shah Mia, and Saiful Islam Abu Basheer.The accident occurred in Al-Baha province on Saturday evening, reported the Saudi Gazette.Four Egyptians and two Indians were among the deceased.The workers, belonging to a catering company that supplies food to patients in Baljurashi hospital, were going to Qunfuda corniche to spend their day-off when the van they were travelling in overturned on a mountainous road, according to the report.Apparently due to time constraint, they opted to take the mountainous route.Prince Hossam Bin Saud Bin Abdul Aziz, Emir of Al-Baha region, reportedly offered condolences to the families of the deceased workers and wished speedy recovery to the injured.Saudi Red Crescent authorities along with the health ministry and civil defense emergency teams rushed to the site of the accident and shifted the injured to Prince Mishari hospital in Baljurashi.Two critically injured victims – an Indian and a Bangladeshi – were shifted to King Fahad hospital in Al-Baha where the Indian worker succumbed to his injuries.last_img read more

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first_imgVijay Keshav Gokhale. Photo UNBIndian foreign secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale will arrive in Dhaka on Sunday afternoon to discuss whole range of bilateral issues including the much-desired Teesta water sharing one, reports UNB.He will hold bilateral talks with his Bangladesh counterpart M Shahidul Haque on Monday at the state guesthouse Meghna, UNB quoted a diplomat as saying.Both sides will sign memorandums of understanding (MoUs) but officials did not tell on which area the MoUs will be signed.The foreign ministry officials said the two secretaries might also discuss possibilities of a meeting between prime minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018 (CHOGM) that will be held in London and Windsor on 16-20 April .The two sides are also expected to exchange views on regional and international issues of common interest, the officials said.The Indian foreign secretary will attend an event on Bangladesh-India relations on Monday afternoon in a city hotel with prime minister’s international affairs adviser Gowher Rizvi as the chief guest.Foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale met vice foreign minister of China Kong Xuanyou in New Delhi on Friday as part of regular diplomatic consultations between India and China.During the meeting, the two sides reviewed recent developments in bilateral relations and discussed the agenda for bilateral engagement, including high level exchanges, in the coming months.On 28 March, Indian National Security adviser Ajit Doval attended the Bimstec national security chiefs’ meeting.last_img read more

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first_imgAfghan policemen walk at the site of a suicide bombing attack on the police headquarters in Gardez, capital of Paktia province. Photo: AFPAt least five Afghan policemen were killed and 15 people injured in a suicide bomb and gun attack by Taliban insurgents on the police headquarters in an eastern city Sunday, authorities said.The assault on the headquarters in Gardez, which was still continuing, was launched at 6:00 am, said the regional police commander, Asadullah Shirzad.Five civilians were among the wounded.One of the five attackers was still holding out more than five hours after the coordinated assault began, Shirzad said.“The first attacker blew up his vehicle at the entrance to the headquarters, opening the way for two others who opened fire on security forces, and another suicide bomber was shot dead,” he said.The head of the police hospital, Dr Shir Mohammad, confirmed the casualty toll.The spokesman for the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed responsibility for the attack in a communique.last_img read more

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first_imgA general view shows Mount Agung erupting seen from Kubu sub-district in Karangasem Regency on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali on Tuesday. photo: AFPPlumes of ash from a rumbling volcano forced Indonesian authorities to close Bali’s airport for a second day Tuesday, as a threatened eruption stranded tourists and forced mass evacuations.Tens of thousands of frightened people have fled their homes near Mount Agung, which looms over the resort island, as experts raised the alert level to maximum and warned it could erupt at any moment.Towering columns of thick grey smoke have been belching from the volcano since last week, and in the last few days have begun shooting into the sky, forcing all flights to be grounded until at least Wednesday morning.“The Volcanic Ash Advisory shows that the plane routes have been covered by volcanic ash, this is dangerous for the flights,” Wisnu Darjono from the air traffic agency AirNav official said.Some 40,000 people have abandoned their homes in the danger zone but as many as many as 100,000 will likely be forced to leave, disaster agency officials have said.The exclusion zone around Agung, which is 75 kilometres away from the beachside tourist hub of Kuta, has also been widened to 10 kilometres.As of late Monday some 445 flights had been cancelled, affecting more than 59,000 people travelling to Bali, a top holiday destination that attracts millions of foreign tourists every year.The airport on nearby Lombok island-also a popular tourist destination east of Bali-closed on Sunday as ash headed in that direction, but reopened early Monday.Memories of disasterMount Agung last went off in 1963, killing some 1,600 people in one of the deadliest eruptions ever seen in a country with nearly 130 active volcanoes.Memories of that disaster have helped drive people towards community centres and makeshift camps, including villagers who have to leave precious livestock behind.“I am very worried because I have experienced this before,” 67-year-old Dewa Gede Subagia, who was a teenager when Agung last roared, told AFP from one evacuation centre.“I hope this time I won’t have to evacuate for too long. In 1963, I left for four months.”Experts said however that Agung’s recent activity matches the build-up to that disaster which ejected enough debris-about a billion tonnes-to lower global average temperatures by 0.2 – 0.3 degrees Celsius for about a year.“What we are seeing at the moment are small explosions, throwing out hot gases and fragments of molten rock, or ash,” said David Pyle, a volcano expert at the University of Oxford in Britain.“The probability of a large eruption is high, but this may take some days or weeks to unfold.”Agung rumbled back to life in September, forcing the evacuation of 140,000 people living nearby. Its activity decreased in late October and many returned to their homes.However, on Saturday the mountain sent smoke up into the air for the second time in a week in what volcanologists call a phreatic eruption-caused by the heating and expansion of groundwater.Then on Monday so-called cold lava flows appeared-similar to mud flows and often a prelude to the blazing orange lava seen in many volcanic eruptions.Indonesia is the world’s most active volcanic region. The archipelago nation with over 17,000 islands lies on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent volcanic and seismic activities.Last year, seven were killed after Mt. Sinabung on the western island of Sumatra erupted, while 16 were left dead by a Sinabung eruption in 2014.last_img read more

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first_imgThe traffic department of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has decided to observe ‘Traffic Discipline Week” every month as part of its initiative to continue improving the trend of traffic discipline in the city streets.”Improvement of traffic discipline in Dhaka city is very visible now due to the strict enforcement of traffic laws as well as continuous steps, which have been taken for bringing traffic discipline in the streets,” said DMP additional commissioner (traffic) Mir Rezaul Alam.The decision to observe the traffic discipline week in every month has been adopted to continue improving the situation, he said through a press release issued Saturday.In the same continuation, the Traffic Discipline Week will be conducted in the city from tomorrow (Sunday) and will continue till 23 March, the additional commissioner said.There has been visible progress in the activities of MRT, BRT and elevated expressway, which are being constructed as part of steps taken to reduce traffic congestion in Dhaka city, he said.Due to those ongoing development activities, some obstacles to the traffic movement are being created, but the situation is under control for the continuous effort of the traffic police, he added.In order to make the traffic discipline week a success, the city dwellers have been requested to cooperate in this regard, Mir Rezaul said.last_img read more

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first_imgIsrael Druze army campaign against Jewish state lawAnwar Saeb spent two decades in the Israeli military, rising to the rank of colonel and suffering wounds in battle while serving as a brigade commander during the 2006 war in Lebanon.Now, the 51-year-old lawyer, a member of Israel’s Arabic-speaking Druze minority, finds himself on the front lines of a different and unlikely battle – leading a campaign against a contentious new law that critics say sidelines minority groups.Tens of thousands of Druze Israelis, along with Jewish supporters, thronged a Tel Aviv square on Saturday night in a rare demonstration against government policy by the typically muted community. Saeb and Amal Assad, a retired brigadier general, led the protest.For Saeb, the campaign is especially painful. The Druze minority is fiercely loyal to the state and well-integrated in society, yet its members feel betrayed by the new “Nation-State” law.”We don’t think it’s good for the Jewish people. It’s not good for the state of Israel,” he told The Associated Press at his office, which has been turned into the “Headquarters of the Nation-State Law Protest.”Israeli and multicolored Druze flags covered nearly every inch of the walls, and his desk was stacked with posters bearing a Jewish Star of David in the Druze colors: green, red, yellow, blue and white.The law, sponsored by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and passed by parliament last month, endorsed the country’s identity as the nation-state of the Jewish people. But it also downgraded Arabic from an official language to one of “special standing” and emphasized “developing Jewish settlement as a national value.”Advocates of the law say it merely enshrines the state’s existing character and upholds the rights of minority groups in a democratic society. But critics say it turned the country’s Arab minority – 20 per cent of the population – into second-class citizens. The law has faced both civil opposition and legal protests, including multiple challenges in the Supreme Court.Netanyahu’s government has had a strained relationship with much of the Arab minority. Many oppose his hard-line policies toward their Palestinian brethren in the West Bank and Gaza or remain scarred by his 2015 election-day attempt to galvanize supporters by warning that Arabs were voting in “droves.”But the backlash among the Druze is surprising and potentially politically damaging.The Druze belong to a small secretive sect that splintered off Shiite Islam in the Middle Ages, with populations concentrated in the mountainous areas of Lebanon, Syria and Israel. Less than 1 percent of the population, Israel’s 130,000 Druze carry outsized influence in the country.Unlike the Muslim and Christian Arab minorities, Israeli Druze are drafted to the military and many strongly identify as Israeli. Most live in hilltop towns and villages in the Galilee, where memorials honor the more than 500 Druze soldiers and police officers killed in the line of duty. They have risen to senior military positions and have served as senior ministers and diplomats.Saeb said there was no conflict between his Israeli and Druze identities, likening it to the dual identity of American Jews. How would they feel, he asked, if the U.S. passed a law stating the country was a Christian nation?”We Druze decided before the foundation of the state (in 1948) to go with the Jews, and if the Jews bite the dust, we go down with them,” Saeb said. “We’re not connected to the Jews to protect them, we don’t serve the Jews. We’re not loyal temporarily. We’re loyal to our home. This is my home.”Speakers at Saturday’s rally said that special relationship between the Jews and Druze had suffered a major blow because of the Nation-State Law.A handful of Druze soldiers in the Israeli military criticized the law on social media, breaking military rules that prohibit soldiers from expressing political opinions.Lt Amir Jmall wrote in a post directed at Netanyahu that he, his brothers, and father all served in the military and in return are treated like “second class citizens” by the law.”I don’t want to continue and I am sure that hundreds of other people will stop serving and be released from the military because of your decision,” Jmall said. He did not respond to requests to be interviewed.Anat Baeeny Kara, a Druze woman volunteering in the protest campaign, said her 17-year-old son is set to enlist in the Israeli military next year, and feared the nation-state law would turn Israel into a “racist state.””I always wanted my son to have a military career. I want him to safeguard the country’s security.” She said she’s still telling her son he must serve, “but there’s a feeling of being a mercenary, of not being an equal citizen.”Netanyahu met last week with Druze leaders in a bid to assuage concerns. According to Israeli media reports, Netanyahu cut the meeting short after Assad, Saeb’s fellow protest leader, warned the law would “lead to apartheid.”Despite the rally, Netanyahu doubled down on his defence of the law on Sunday, saying it doesn’t harm any citizens and was needed to “ensure the future of Israel as the state of the Jewish people for generations to come.”Saeb says the law could be fixed by adding one clause: “equality for all citizens.”The protest leaders have called for Israel’s declaration of independence, which enshrines protection of minority rights, to supplant the new legislation.Issued in May 1948, it proclaimed the country as the Jewish homeland, rebuilt after 2000 years of exile. But it also called for the “development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants.” It guarantees “complete equality of social and political rights to all inhabitants irrespective of religion, race, or sex.”Saeb said that he himself has never “felt second class” as a Druze in Israel, and his qualm is solely with government policies.”I’m fighting so that the state doesn’t become second-class, because laws like this turn it into second-class state,” he said.last_img read more

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first_imgIn this 23 May file photo, Paul Manafort, president Donald Trump`s former campaign chairman, leaves the Federal District Court after a hearing, in Washington. Photo: APThe special counsel in the Russia investigation is accusing former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of violating his plea agreement by repeatedly lying to federal investigators, an extraordinary allegation that could expose him to a lengthier prison sentence — and potentially more criminal charges.The torpedoing of Manafort’s plea deal, disclosed in a court filing Monday, also results in special counsel Robert Mueller’s team losing a cooperating witness from the top of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign who was present for several key episodes under investigation. That includes a Trump Tower meeting involving Donald Trump Jr and a Russian lawyer he was told had derogatory information on Democrat Hillary Clinton.The move signals a return to the acrimonious relationship Manafort has had with the special counsel’s office since his indictment last year. Before his plea agreement, Manafort aggressively challenged the special counsel’s legitimacy in court, went through a bitter trial and landed himself in jail after prosecutors discovered he had attempted to tamper with witnesses in his case.In the latest filing, Mueller’s team said Manafort “committed federal crimes” by lying about “a variety of subject matters” even after he agreed to truthfully cooperate with the investigation. Prosecutors said they will detail the “nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies” in writing at a later date to the judge.Through his attorneys, Manafort denied lying, saying he “believes he provided truthful information” during a series of sessions with Mueller’s investigators. He also disagreed that he breached his plea agreement. Still, both sides now agree they can’t resolve the conflict, and US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson should set a date to sentence him.Manafort, who remains jailed, had been meeting with the special counsel’s office since he pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice. He cut that deal to head off a second trial after being convicted last summer of eight felony counts related to millions of dollars he hid from the IRS in offshore accounts.Both cases stemmed from his Ukrainian political work and undisclosed lobbying work he admitted to carrying out in the US in violation of federal law.As part of his plea agreement, Manafort pledged to “cooperate fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly” with the government “in any and all matters” prosecutors deemed necessary. That included his work on the Trump campaign as well as his Ukrainian political work, which remains under investigation by the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.Prosecutors there are looking into the conduct of longtime Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta, former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig and former Republican congressman and lobbyist Vin Weber to determine whether they violated federal law by failing to register as foreign agents with the Justice Department. None of the men has been charged with any crimes.As part of his plea deal, Manafort also forfeited many of his rights as well as his ability to withdraw the plea if he broke any of the terms. In return, prosecutors agreed to not bring additional charges against him and to ask a judge for a reduction of his sentence if he provided “substantial assistance.”But with prosecutors saying he breached the agreement, Manafort now faces serious repercussions such as the possibility of prosecution on additional charges including the 10 felony counts prosecutors dropped when he made the deal.Manafort already faces up to five years in prison on the two charges in his plea agreement. In his separate Virginia case, Manafort’s potential sentencing under federal guidelines has not yet been calculated, but prosecutors have previously said he could face as much as 10 years in prison on those charges.He is scheduled to be sentenced in that case in February. His co-defendant Rick Gates, who spent a longer time on the campaign and worked on the Trump inaugural committee, has not had a sentencing date set yet. He continues to cooperate with Mueller.last_img
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first_imgA police officer stands guard outside Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 22 March 2019. Reuters File PhotoWeeks before a gunman killed 50 Muslims in Christchurch, a man had threatened to burn copies of the Koran outside New Zealand mosques, in what community leaders said was the latest in a long list of threatening behaviour against religious minorities.Police said they warned a 38-year-old man over the incident, which was unrelated to the Christchurch attack, but could not say if it was part of a pattern.That’s because, unlike many Western countries including the United Kingdom and the United States, New Zealand’s government keeps no comprehensive record of hate crimes, failing to act on requests to do so from local and international agencies spanning more than a decade.”For many years our view has consistently been that this needs to be prioritised and implemented urgently,” said Janet Anderson-Bidois, chief legal adviser at the Human Rights Commission, the independent government agency tasked with protecting human rights.”It is imperative that we have good data.”A suspected white supremacist has been charged with murder over the Christchurch shootings and will appear in court again on 5 April.In the wake of New Zealand’s worst mass shooting, questions are being asked about what signs agencies missed and where resources should have been allocated to protect vulnerable communities.Prime minister Jacinda Ardern has ordered a Royal Commission, a powerful form of inquiry, into the attack.Anwar Ghani from the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, said anecdotal evidence suggested there had been a rise in anti-Muslim behaviour in recent years.”When there is a hot spot in global events and when Muslims are involved…we do see the pulse of hate crime coming from certain members of the community,” he said.”Not A Priority”Joris De Bres, New Zealand’s Race Relations Commissioner between 2002 and 2013, said he was alarmed at signs of an uptick in threats against Muslims when he took up the role soon after the 9/11 attacks in the United States.De Bres said he repeatedly asked the government and police to create a central system for recording details about crimes motivated by hatred and racism.He raised the issue with the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which in its 2007 review of New Zealand said the lack of records was a concern, and asked the government to collect data on complaints of racially motivated crimes.”I listed it every year…I wrote at various points to government about it and it was simply said that it wasn’t necessary and it wasn’t a priority,” De Bres said.In its latest report on New Zealand in 2017, the UN committee repeated its concerns and requests and asked the government to provide the data for its next report as a priority.When current justice and intelligence serivces minister Andrew Little took office in late 2017, the Human Rights Commission said in their incoming briefing the country needed a central system for recording details about crimes motivated by hatred and racism and steps currently taken by police were insufficient.”Understanding the scale, extent, and location of hate crimes is essential and is a prerequisite to ensuring adequate resources are available to address the issue,” the briefing said.Little did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment but told local media on Saturday that current hate speech laws were inadequate and he would work with officials to review the legislation, including considering whether a separate hate crime offence should be created.Police said they took hate crimes seriously and were continually looking to improve the way they worked.”We are engaged in ongoing conversations with community leaders and representatives about a range of issues, including how police record allegations of hate crime and crimes of prejudice,” said a police spokesperson via email.The National Party, in power from 2008 to 2017, said while in government, it introduced legislation to protect people from harmful communication online.”There are hate speech laws in the Human Rights Act, but whether data should be collected is an operational matter for Police,” a spokeswoman said by email.No One Was ListeningNew Zealand has had no previous extremist mass attacks, unlike neighbouring Australia, but civil society members say an underbelly of racism has always existed and may have been escalating.Anjum Rahman from the Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand said the group had repeatedly alerted the government over the past five years about the rise of the extreme right and the growing threat Muslim women felt in New Zealand.”Without the data, without the measurement it’s really hard to push for change…I feel like it wasn’t taken seriously because it wasn’t hard data because we didn’t have it,” she said, adding she felt “a resistance to creating that data.”One in 10 New Zealand adults have experienced hate speech online according to a 2018 study by internet safety organisation Netsafe, with people of Asian descent or who identified as ‘other’ ethnicity most affected.Since 2002, a law has specified judges should take hostility towards a group of people with a “common characteristic”, such as race or religion, into account when sentencing.A Reuters review of sentencing records found 22 such cases since 2002, most with a racial motive.Those included the murder of a Korean student, the hurling of a pipe bomb at a Sikh Temple, and threats to politicians by a non-Muslim posing as an Islamic extremist, which the judge described as a “deliberate attempt to tap into public fear about radicalised Muslims”.The likely number is far higher, say human rights experts, because accessible records encompass only cases that are appealed or the most severe charges that reach New Zealand’s highest courts, not the tens of thousands of cases dealt with in lower District Courts each year.One of those was a 2016 case, first reported by the New Zealand Herald, in which a Christchurch man delivered a bloodied pig’s head to Al Noor mosque, which was attacked this month.He was charged with “offensive behaviour” and fined NZ$800 ($543), court records show.In 2017, lawmakers asked police whether hate crime was increasing but were told it could not be measured because it was not recorded as a specific category, according to Parliamentary records.The Human Rights Commission said it received 417 complaints relating to race in 2018, up from 350 in 2014. Those included 63 complaints of “racial disharmony”, which includes hate speech, a 26 per cent jump from four years earlier.Lawmaker Golriz Ghahraman, a former human rights lawyer who was born in Iran and came to New Zealand as a child refugee, said she had received death threats and xenophobia including being called a “terrorist” and “Jihadist” online.Before the Christchurch attacks, most of the public had felt safe, she said.”Minorities didn’t, but no one was listening to them.”last_img read more

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first_imgAustralia`s prime minister Scott Morrison speaks at a press conference at the Parliament House in Canberra on 11 April 2019. Photo: AFPWikiLeaks founder and Australian citizen Julian Assange will receive “no special treatment” from his home country following his dramatic arrest in Britain, prime minister Scott Morrison said Friday.Assange’s seven-year hideout in Ecuador’s London embassy ended dramatically on Thursday when police dragged the WikiLeaks founder out of the building into a waiting van.He was found guilty by a British court on Thursday of breaching his bail conditions in 2012 and faces a year in prison.But US authorities are seeking his extradition on charges relating to his work with former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010, with the case to be heard on 2 May.Barely 24 hours into an official election campaign, Morrison said Assange would receive the same support as any other Australian in trouble overseas, and the extradition is a “matter for the United States”.”Well it’s got nothing to do with us, it has got to do with the United States,” he told national broadcaster the ABC.”There’s a judicial process, and that will be followed across a range of matters here and I would expect that to follow. He will receive the same consular support as any other Australians would in these circumstances.”Morrison’s counterpart Bill Shorten, who is favourite to become Australia’s next prime minister following the 18 May election, also distanced himself from the case.”It will be a matter for the legal system to proceed, he should receive the support any other Australian citizens should receive,” the opposition leader told reporters.”The matter is going before court so I don’t think there is much more I can add,” Shorten said.last_img
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first_imgAbdur Rahim, a seller at the Karwan Bazar kitchen market, busy selling spices. File Photo: Nusrat NowrinThe demand for spices, mainly used in meat dishes, usually soars during religious festivals like Eid-ul-Azha when Muslims across the country sacrifice millions of animals. And there is no exception this time.The prices are high even though officials at the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) say the supply is adequate. Traders blame wholesalers for the price hike but consumers say lack of monitoring by the agencies concerned is the root of the problem. Various spices, including cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaf rose by 5 to 35 per cent compared to the previous month, according to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) data.Cinnamon, for example, cost about Tk 160 more on Friday compared to last month’s. Cardamom was more expensive and saw a price hike of about Tk 1,100 at some markets in Dhaka.Chandi Das Kundu, director of Horticulture Wing of DAE, said some spices produced in Bangladesh are insufficient to meet the demand and the country has to import most of the spices that are not grown locally.DAE officials said 44,68,140 metric tonnes of spices were produced in the 2018-19 fiscal year while 13,12,144 mts were imported.Md Azhar Ali, director of DAE, insisted that there was no dearth in supply. “There’s adequate supply of spices as we’ve imported a huge quantity to meet this year’s demand,” he told UNB.President of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Ghulam Rahman said the trend of price hike during Eid is a trick used by businesspeople to line their pockets. But some traders disagreed.“The retailers sold the spices at high rates. So, we’ve to increase the prices,” said Abdul Halim, a trader at Karwanbazar market. He said the prices of all spices were hiked during Eid-ul-Fitr and did not go down since.Spices were sold at high prices at various markets in Bangshal, Nayabazar, Gulistan and Shantinagar.Halima Khatun, a resident of Bangshal, said the increase in spice prices was nothing new before Eid but this time the situation was a little extreme. “I bought cardamom at Tk 3,500 per kg!” she said.“Traders increase the prices ahead of Eid in the absence of proper monitoring. What can we do as consumers? We’ve no choice but to buy them at high prices,” she said.last_img read more

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