The Ahmedabad police have formed 100 squads to be deployed across the city to bust bootleggers and parties serving alcohol on New Year’s Eve. Special police vehicles were on patrol with posters that said “vans to catch drunkards” in Gujarati since Saturday night. Assistant Commissioner of Police, Special Branch, MK Rana said that there will be one van at each police station for picking up offenders under the anti-drinking law.
Ahmedabad Commissioner of Police, AK Singh, told The Indian Express, “Actually all police stations are on the job with their vehicle fleet. However, only some in vulnerable areas particularly in eastern Ahmedabad, have this banner (the drunkard one) on to magnify the message”.
Last week, Independent MLA from Banaskantha, Jignesh Mevani, had gheraoed the Gomtipur police station with supporters demanding strict implementation of the prohibition law. Two days after his protest, by December 28, the Gomtipur police officials had raided 63 places by a team of around 130 policemen. The police said that they could make out only four cases under the prohibition law.
According to Gomtipur police, since January this year, more than 520 prohibition-related cases have been registered but a majority of these cases are petty offences such as being caught drunk, caught with one or two bottles among others. Three days ago the police had busted liquor worth over Rs 83,000.
Gomtipur police station area is largely dominated by Dalits and Muslims. Dalits are mostly locals but Muslims have settled mostly from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar among other cities over the years. According to police, there are a number of poor women, most of them widows, bootleggers who are active in the area to earn quick money.
“We have been taking action on every information about such illegal activities. We raided at 63 places yesterday and registered four cases and found 20 liquor bottles. But we have been conducting such raids all the time. There are a lot of people in the locality who are extremely poor and don’t have means to earn a livelihood. They get involved in such activities to earn easy money,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone-5, Himkar Singh. Gomtipur police station comes under his jurisdiction.
According to police, Ahmedabad has recorded the highest number of prohibition related cases this year. On the other hand, from October 25, when Election Commission announced dates of assembly polls and model code of conduct came into being, till December 12 (in all 49 days), the maximum number of cases were registered in Ahmedabad. The flying squads of EC seized illicit India Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) worth over Rs23.50 crore while over Rs30 lakh worth country made liquor was seized from various parts of the state.
In these days a total of 33,191 cases of prohibition were registered at different police stations while 26,913 persons were arrested. Besides, vehicles, carrying liquor, were also seized which are worth over Rs 52 crore. During the period police seized nearly 10 lakh litres of liquor that included both country liquor and IMFL.
The EC data revealed that Valsad, south Gujarat, that borders with union territories Daman, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, recorded seizure of IMFL worth over Rs3.28 crore with 625 cases while Ahmedabad city registered maximum number of cases 3,455 in which liquor worth Rs68.91 crore was seized.
Banaskantha district that borders Rajasthan recorded 1,106 cases in which over Rs 2.93 crore IMFL were seized. State capital Gandhinagar has recorded 645 cases in which Rs 3.36 crore worth IMFL were seized. In terms of the total number of seizure, including country liquor, IMFL and vehicles Valsad topped with Rs 7.54 crore seizure, Banaskantha with Rs 5.85 crore, Gandhinagar Rs 4.53 crore, Aravalli Rs 4.23 crore, Navsari Rs 2.51 crore and in Ahmedabad city the total seizure was Rs 2.30 crore.