Madhya Pradesh continued as the top state in the country as far as seizure of smuggled liquor is concerned with 51,646 cases registered during 2014, according to the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.
More than 3.5 million litres of smuggled alcohol was seized in Madhya Pradesh last year, a shade more than that in Uttar Pradesh, indicating rampant liquor smuggling to the neighbouring dry state of Gujarat.
It is the second consecutive year that Madhya Pradesh has secured this dubious distinction. In 2013, 50,711 cases of liquor smuggling were registered in the state, way ahead of Uttar Pradesh which came second at 32,525. Figures indicating the amount of liquor seized were not included in the NCRB report of 2013.
Officials say a reason for high number of such cases in the state is that alcohol smuggling charges are often slapped against smugglers — even when they are not in possession of alcohol — to put them behind bars. But, because of this practice, the number of cases of liquor seize keeps rising in the records. There is a provision in the state’s Excise Act which allows the police and excise department officials to put a person in jail for two months without bail if he is caught possessing 60 liters or more of liquor.
“Otherwise, getting bail under Excise Act is very easy,” a police official explained on the condition of anonymity.
“Yes, we know the police booked many goons under section 34(2) of excise act even after they are not found with liquor. In most of the cities of Madhya Pradesh goon are booked under “Gunda Drive”, which had increased the number of seizure in the state. The reason is very simple; the goon hardly gets bail and remains in jail for at least two months,” said a senior excise official who is posted in Malwa region.
It is an open secret that alcohol is smuggled from Madhya Pradesh, through the borders of Jhabua and Alirajpur. And though senior government officials do not accept it, experts say the trade is done with the connivance of both police and excise officials.
A senior police official who was posted in Alirajpur said that at present only 10% of the liquor that passes through Madhya Pradesh border gets seized.