A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Punjab Police Tuesday arrested liquor contractor and owner of a popular amusement park, Rakesh Kumar alias Bittu Chhabra, in connection with the “liquor rebottling unit case” where cheap liquor “999” was allegedly filled in bottles of premium brands for sale ahead.
Chhabra allegedly purchased at least 40 boxes of cheap liquor packed in bottles of premium brands and sold them ahead, said police.
On February 13, Ludhiana (Rural) police had raided and busted a liquor rebottling unit at village Khandoor where cheap liquor “999” was being smuggled and filled in empty bottles of high-end brands such as Chivas Regal 12, Chivas Regal 18, Johnnie Walker Black Label, Johnnie Walker Gold Label, Glenlivet, Glenfiddich among others.
The total arrests in the case reached five on Tuesday. DSP (Dakha) G S Bains said that Chhabra is a known liquor contractor in Ludhiana and owns amusement park Hardy’s World on Ludhiana-Jalandhar road. He also owns some liquor vends, said DSP. The DSP said that Chhabra allegedly purchased at least 40 boxes of cheap liquor bottled as premium brands from another accused Raju who was arrested earlier in the case.
“Chhabra purchased approximately 40 boxes of cheap and duplicate liquor packed in bottles of premium brands from another accused Raju whom we had arrested earlier. He also owns some liquor vends in the city. Chhabra was also in touch with another accused Amit Singh Parmar, who is yet to be arrested. It is a matter of probe if he purchased liquor from Parmar too. It is also being probed to whom he sold duplicate liquor boxes ahead,” said DSP.
The entire racket was allegedly being run from the property of one Harpreet Singh, who owns a house in village Khandoor, said the DSP. “During the raid, we had arrested two workers on spot who were refilling bottles. Subsequently, the owner of property Harpreet Singh was arrested. Then Raju was arrested who used to smuggle and supply cheap “999” liquor which was filled in branded bottles. Chhabra is the fifth arrest in the case. Two main accused — Amit Singh Parmar and Lovepreet — are yet to be arrested. Chhabra’s interrogation will reveal if he sold 40 boxes ahead and for how much,” said DSP.
A senior Ludhiana (Rural) police official said that the level of racket causing revenue loss to exchequer and putting lives of consumers in danger can be gauged from the fact that cheap liquor “999” which was being filled in empty branded bottles, costs just Rs 700-800 (per box with 12 bottles) and it was being sold as high as Rs 60,000 per box (12 bottles of Chivas Regal) or Johnnie Walker premium labels costing Rs 25,000-30,000 per box.
The SIT investigating the matter is headed by IGP (Crime) G Nageswara Rao with Ludhiana (Rural) SSP Vivek Sheel Soni as its member. An FIR in this case was registered at Jodhan police station under the Sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 308, 120-B of IPC, Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act and Section 61 of the Excise Act.
“The unit had started operations in January this year and functioned for around a month before being raided in February,” said DSP. “There was no liquor manufacturing taking place here in this unit. They were smuggling cheap liquor and selling them ahead as branded after filling them in empty bottles of high end brands. We are investigating from whom they purchased bottles of high end brands,” said DSP.
Sub-Inspector Jasvir Singh, SHO Jodhan police station said that, during the raid in February, they had recovered 50 boxes with filled bottles (999 packed in branded bottles) and 135 boxes which had empty bottles and were yet to be filled.
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