With the Lok Sabha polls round the corner,the police have intensified their efforts to contain bootlegging activities. However,bootleggers on the other hand have taken to the novel way of ferrying their consignments to Surat through sea route.
The first such incident came to light on March 22 after Surat Crime Branch sleuths,acting on a tip off,raided an open shed at Magdalla port in Surat and arrested three persons who were carting liquor consignments along with some others. The police seized 4,689 bottles of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) worth Rs 6.97 lakh from the spot.
Two others,who had escaped,were nabbed on Tuesday night from their residents. Police are looking for the owners of the vessel and the wine shop,both from Daman,from where the consignment came.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Subhash Trivedi of the Crime Branch said,”This is the first case of trafficking illicit liquor through the sea route. Bharat Tandel,the wine shop owner and Mahesh Tandel,the vessel owner,are still at large. We’ll also seize the vessel used in the liquor trafficking.
Trivedi said The elections are round the corner and there is a huge demand for liquor. The bootleggers have selected the sea route now because of the intensified police drive to catch the culprits involved in trafficking of liquor through road and rail.
Those arrested have been identified as Feroz Fruitwala,his brother Salim Fruitwala (both residents of Gopipura Momnawad in Surat) and one Mohammed Hasam,a resident of Sagrampura. After interrogating the two brothers,police also nabbed Rafik Mirza and Subhash Yadav (who had fled from the spot when police had raided the shed at the port) from their residences in Nanpura.
Police said the liquor consignment was owned by Feroz and the bottles were purchased from a wine shop in Daman,owned by one Bharat Tandel (Dhruv).
Bharat and Feroz had become friends at a jail in Rajkot where they were booked under PASA a couple of months ago,said police.
According to police,both the friends had decided to transport liquor bottles through sea to meet customers demand. Bharat had also assured Feroz that he will manage a vessel with the help of his friend Tandel.
“The liquor sellers in Daman evade tax and make more profit by taking to the sea route. We have passed on the information to the Customs Department and even the Marine Police have been alerted to intensify patrolling,” Trivedi said.