The crackdown against the inter-state liquor smuggling is in full swing as the Railway Protection Force (RPF) had seized 11,582 litres of booze and arrested 158 till June this year.
Smugglers illegally transported liquor, including Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) brands, to the dry state of Gujarat from the outskirts of Mumbai by using trains.
As increased surveillance on roads played spoilsport to smugglers’ nefarious designs, they switched to trains to dodge enforcement agencies. “Most of these gangs pull the emergency chain at designated spots where their aides carrying liquor bottles board the train to evade the railway police. These illegal halts are mostly at places where tracks run alongside the road,” said Anand Vijay Jha, senior divisional security commissioner, RPF (Western Railway).
In the wake of RPF raids at railway stations, miscreants started taking Gujarat-bound trains to peddle liqour.
RPF officials suspect the inter-state transportation is the handiwork of organised gangs, which operate from the Dahanu-Daman belt. They have stepped up vigil at stations and on trains since the demand for liquor goes up during the monsoon.
Investigators said smugglers board trains from station beyond Dahanu, mostly from lesser-known places such s Udhwada and Umargaon; and the consignment is unloaded in batches at Valsad, Surat, Ankleshwar and Baroda stations.
Special RPF teams were formed and some of the personnel were also posted on trains that were regularly affected due to these unscheduled halts. They keep a close eye on passengers who alight trains at unscheduled halts forced by pulling of emergency chain.
While the RPF keeps changing strategy to catch as many smugglers as possible, officials said that railway is however a popular mode of transport as there are comparatively fewer checks. If travelling by road, smugglers are likely to be caught at checkpoints manned by excise officials and police.
On many occasions, railway police personnel were found to have colluded with such gangs for a cut. “We act on personnel who abet criminal when we receive complaints. If found guilty, they have to face disciplinary action and transfer. The staffers are rotated frequently to prevent collusion,” added Jha.