Three men, including a police constable, were arrested in Surat on Monday night with liquor worth Rs 1.64 lakh. The trio, who were carrying liquor which they bought in Daman, were found in a car by the Valsad police patrol party near Pataliya village in Pardi taluka. The three were identified as Keshav Patel, a resident of Damka village in Surat, Satish Patel, a resident of Bhatlai village in Surat, and Yogesh Patel, a resident of Dandi road in Surat and a constable posted at Ichhapore police station. The policemen recovered 895 bottles of IMFL worth Rs 1.64 lakh from the trio’s car.
Yogesh Patel is the second policeman to be booked under prohibition laws from the same police station in two weeks. Earlier, investigations into the Vareli village hooch tragedy in Surat, which claimed 24 lives last month, followed by a clampdown on bootleggers, have exposed a network of policemen and bootleggers in south Gujarat. Last month, 17 policemen — 12 from Surat and five from Navsari — were booked under the prohibition laws. Of them, two were also booked for extortion.
Pardi police sub-inspector P H Nai said, “Yogesh Patel was on his duty when he was caught with liquor. Satish Patel is listed as a bootlegger. They had purchased liquor bottles from Bhimpore village in Daman. We are carrying out investigations to get more details.”
On October 13, a case of disproportionate assets was registered against assistant sub-inspector of Surat rural police, Prakash Patil, for having an income 250 per cent higher than his known sources of income. He was suspended soon after the Vareli hooch tragedy.
The hooch racket was exposed towards the end of August when the first death in the case was reported from the village. On September 25, a police constable posted at Udhna police station in Surat city was booked by Navsari police after IMFL bottles worth Rs 33,000 were recovered from his car. The following day, Navsari district police registered a case against an SI and four other policemen for aiding bootleggers. Six more policemen were booked at Kadodara police station for the same nexus under prohibition laws from Surat district on September 29.
Two policemen from Surat crime branch — ASI Mahendra Borse and constable Deepak Barot — had picked up an astrologer, identified as Salim Shaikh, from Athwalines area, under suspicion on October 10 and kept him in illegal custody. They were arrested five days later for trying to extort Rs five lakh from his wife.
Surat Police Commissioner Satish Sharma said, “We will take strict action against the policemen who have been booked for different crimes. The involvement of policemen in illegal activities has revealed that senior officers have no control over their staff. We will also take strict action against the senior policemen.”