Hooch manufacturers are using railway property for plying their illegal trade, West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra told railways minister Dinesh Trivedi on the phone on Friday even as victims of the Sangrampur tragedy are battling death.
Mitra held a meeting on this on Friday. Among those present were DGP Naparajit Mukherjee and additional director general (law and order) Surajit Kar Purkayastha. “We are highly concerned and doing whatever is necessary to curb this menace,” Trivedi told HT.
An official present in Mitra’s meeting said: “The finance minister informed him (Trivedi) how railway land and property were being utilised by the hooch (a kind of illicit liquor) network in the state. Mitra also sought the railways’ help in curbing the menace.”
South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly are particularly marked for this.
“We have increased the frequency of raids and identified the spots. Arrests are being made already and a huge quantity of hooch is being seized. Officers have been told to keep a special vigil in local trains and railway property to check illegal transportation of hooch,” said Dilip Mitra, additional director general, railway police.
An official said: “For passengers, especially those in local trains, it is common knowledge how this racket runs near and on railway land.” Apart from the human tragedy, the issue has a revenue angle as well. Hooch sale cuts into the market of country liquor, from which the state government earns excise duty.