Hooch Sales Record Record, Even at Previous Double Rates

With the blockade that led to the closing of bars and liquor stores, several states have registered an increase in liquor, as well as in the sale and manufacture of liquor. they are alert because seizures of shipments of domestically produced alcohol and foreign contraband liquor of Indian origin (IMFL) have increased in the recent past.

In Haridwar, Uttarakhand, and the adjacent UP districts, where nearly 130 people died last year in one of the worst tragedies in history, hooch makers are doing vigorous business again, selling a liter of illicit liquor for up to Rs 400, double the usual. Speed. Haridwar's SSP, Senthil Avoodai Krishna Raj S, told TOI that 25,000 liters of hooch have been destroyed in the district since the closure.

The raw material for making hooch has been recovered from villages in the Bhagwanpur region that were at the center of last year's calamity. A 32-year-old man from the area told TOI that alcoholics who need their daily dose have no choice but to turn to what is available. In particular, alcohol is banned in the holy city, but local smugglers sell IMFL incessantly, and the most vulnerable part of the city is home to a mini-hooch industry due to the easy availability of raw materials such as sugar cane to make liquor. illicit.

After a massive crackdown by authorities on the hooch mafia last year, there was a pause in sales, but the blockade could have reversed some of the benefits, a police officer admitted. For the mafia, this is a lucrative opportunity as the unavailability of contraband liquor means more customers, which is why many people appear to have revived operations, he said. The Haridwar SSP said several furnaces, where hooch is distilled, were found in the forests near the Haridwar district.

Police find furnaces, where hooch is distilled, in the forests of Haridwar

But what is most concerning to the police is that the illicit liquor mob is now setting up operations even on distant hills to make some profit while the shutdown lasts. “Last month, we made the largest seizure of illicit liquor in the hills: 700 liters of alcohol were found in the Pithoragarh district. The bottles were buried underground, said a police officer. DIG Kumaon Jagatram Joshi said another 432 bottles of illicit liquor were seized in the Champawat district.

In neighboring UP, dozens of illicit liquor suppliers were arrested after the deaths of two people in Kanpur on April 12 after drinking alcohol. On April 17, Prayagraj police arrested five people and discovered an illegal liquor production unit in the Holagarh police station area, while in Lucknow, police arrested nine men in six separate cases along with 90 liters of home-made liquor and IMFL on April 13.

Odisha police also arrested 20 people and confiscated 800 liters of illicit liquor in the past month, according to state excise commissioner Anjan Kumar Manik.

IMFL liquor smuggling also keeps cops working overtime. On April 26, 4,289 cases of alcohol were recovered as they were being smuggled from a takedown in Ghaziabad, Superintendent of Police (SSP) Ghaziabad Kalanidhi Naithani told TOI. In another case, a police officer was arrested in Ghaziabad for allegedly smuggling liquor.

Goa's special tax department seized 20,729 liters of alcohol and sealed some 200 outlets that violate closing conditions. Contraband liquor has also been seized in Bihar, where the ban is in force. On April 14, a truck in the Darbhaga district retrieved a large shipment of IMFL hidden in sacks of onions and potatoes, while seizures were also made in the Banka and Vaishali districts.

Contributions from MS Nawaz, Prashant Jha, Pathikrit Chakraborty, Ramashankar, Debabrata Mohapatra, Bindiya Chari