Liquor meant for sale in Gurdaspur, Bathinda smuggled into ‘dry’ Bihar - Hindustan Times
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Liquor meant for sale in Gurdaspur, Bathinda smuggled into ‘dry’ Bihar

Apr 07, 2024 07:30 AM IST

Of the total liquor seized in Bihar in the past three months, 41% has been manufactured in Punjab and 7% in Haryana. This hints at pilferage of liquor and extra neutral alcohol (ENA) -- primarily used as a base for spirits and alcoholic beverages -- from distilleries, which are being monitored through CCTV cameras 24X7 by the excise officials

CHANDIGARH : Liquor meant for sale in vends across Punjab’s Gurdaspur and Bathinda districts is being smuggled into Bihar, which was declared a dry state in April 2016.

Liquor meant for sale in vends across Punjab’s Gurdaspur and Bathinda districts is being smuggled into Bihar, which was declared a dry state in April 2016
Liquor meant for sale in vends across Punjab’s Gurdaspur and Bathinda districts is being smuggled into Bihar, which was declared a dry state in April 2016

Of the total liquor seized in Bihar in the past three months, 41% has been manufactured in Punjab and 7% in Haryana. This hints at pilferage of liquor and extra neutral alcohol (ENA) -- primarily used as a base for spirits and alcoholic beverages -- from distilleries, which are being monitored through CCTV cameras 24X7 by the excise officials, officials privy to the development said.

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The Election Commission of India (ECI) has taken stern view of the matter ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and has pulled up Punjab and Haryana governments and the Chandigarh administration following reports of large-scale smuggling of liquor from the two states and the UT to Bihar.

After scanning QR codes and holograms on smuggled bottles, it was found that the liquor was to be sold in vends in Gurdaspur and Bathinda, said officials privy to the matter.

According to an election commission official, a particular brand manufactured in Punjab was found in large quantity in Bihar.

Concerned over the trend, the Bihar chief secretary recently wrote to the Punjab and Haryana governments to check the illegal liquor trade. He also brought it to the notice of the Chief Election Commissioner of India, who held a meeting with officials of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh and asked them to check the menace.

“Following the issue raised by the Bihar chief secretary, the ECI held a web conference with officials and pulled up the states concerned. Besides top administrative officials, the ECI has also asked the police chiefs to check liquor smuggling. Punjab excise officials, too, have been given a stern warning,” said an official aware of the matter.

Punjab chief electoral officer Sibin C, who was present at the meeting, said that ECI has taken a stern view of the trend and asked the states to curb the menace.

Financial commissioner, taxation, Vikas Partap confirmed that the ECI has taken a stern view of matter. “Following directions from the ECI, we have imposed penalties on liquor contractors,” he said.

Punjab excise commissioner Varun Roojam said FIRs have been registered on the basis of the data supplied by Bihar. “Liquor was smuggled to Bihar from vends in Gurdaspur and Bathinda. We have imposed penalties and helped Bihar cops identify owners of these vends. We also ordered shutting of these vends for two days as a punitive action.” he added.

Roojam said the excise department has shared an IT-based live google spreadsheet of liquor transported from Punjab to other states with the ECI and other states concerned. A round-the-clock control centre has been established to track the movement of liquor, he added.

Similarly, Haryana and Chandigarh have also asked the distillers, vends and other packing units to follow the norms while transporting liquor to other states.

In the 2022 assembly elections, liquor smuggled from Punjab was seized in Goa.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Vishal Rambani is an assistant editor covering Punjab. A journalist with over a decade of experience, he writes on politics, crime, power sector, environment and socio-economic issues. He has several investigative stories to his credit.

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