India: Rumours of salt shortage triggers violence

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Nov 12, 2016, 01.24 AM(IST)

Union food and public distribution minister, Ram Vilas Paswan called the rumors baseless and blamed UP chief minister for trying to mar Centre's image. Photograph:( AFP )

Violence broke out in parts of India's capital New Delhi over rumours of increase in prices of essential commodities and shortage of salt. 

The rumour caused residents of Jamia Nagar area in south-east Delhi to pelt stones at police buses.

Four policemen were injured in the altercation, a senior police officer said. 

While the police were trying to control the situation, another rumour spread that a trader was shot during a fight over shortage of salt, police said. 

Several policemen were deployed in the area to control the situation.

The panic also spread to parts of western Maharashtra state, with police receiving frantic calls from people wanting to know if the rumours are true. 

Mumbai police spokesperson Ashok Dudhe said: "Rumours about price hike are doing rounds. These are baseless."

Many shop owners reportedly took advantage of the panic that was sparked due to the rumours. Shopkeepers in Govandi, Shivajinagar, Bainganwadi, Mankhurd and Antop Hill in Mumbai were selling salt at higher prices and a police team was immediately sent to stop it. 

The police believe the rumours started in northern Uttar Pradesh state. 

Union food and public distribution minister Ram Vilas Paswan assured the public that the rumours were baseless. 

"State government must track down those people trying to sell salt for 200 Rupees per kilo. This is just wrong. There is no shortage of salt, sugar, rice, wheat or even pulses for that matter," ANI quoted Paswan as saying.  

The minister blamed Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav of using salt as a political tool as an attempt to tarnish the federal government's image. 

(WION with inputs from agencies)