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25% jump in seizure of illicit liquor in Delhi every year, DCW to intensify campaign

4.36 lakh bottles were seized till November 15 this year and over 3.5 lakh bottles were seized in 2016.

delhi Updated: Dec 26, 2017 11:41 IST
Shubhomoy Sikdar
Shubhomoy Sikdar
Hindustan Times
Delhi illicit liquor,Delhi Commission of Women,countrymade liquor
DCW chief Swati Maliwal with the panel’s Narela volunteer, who was allegedly attacked by bootleggers, after she was discharged from hospital earlier this month.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

After the recent assault on its volunteer fighting bootlegging in west Delhi’s Narela, the Delhi Commission of Women (DCW) announced it would intensify its campaign against the illegal sale of liquor in the city.

The commission says illicit liquor continues to thrive in the city. And its claims are backed by police seizures, which show that all kinds of liquor, smuggled mainly from Haryana, continue to fuel the trade at the cost of revenue and health.

The seizure trends of countrymade liquor is particularly alarming. Police data show that this category of alcohol, brewed in Haryana, has seen an annual increase of 25% in seizure over the past two years.

As many as 4.36 lakh bottles were seized till November 15 this year, which is nearly 25% more than the 3.50 lakh bottles seized last year and 56% more than the 2.79 lakh bottles in 2015.

DCW chief Swati Maliwal said that in her future drives, special emphasis would be on curbing the sale of illicit countrymade liquor.

“They sell it cheaper and make it easily available by stocking it in homes as we saw in the case of bootleggers who attacked our volunteer in Narela. The smugglers reduce the premium by avoiding duty. Santra and Musambi are the colloquial terms used for these countrymade liquors supplied by these bootleggers and the trade is almost omnipresent. At a government-owned shop, a bottle is available for Rs 50. But the same bottle is sold for Rs 20 in the black market by avoiding excise duty,” said Maliwal.

Delhi’s excise commissioner Amjad Tak said there are over 90 government-run shops of countrymade liquor in Delhi. But neither the excise nor DCW officials agreed to share their opinion on the need for more legal shops within Delhi to meet the growing demand.

Deputy excise commissioner, Praveen Mishra, said the inflow of illicit countrymade liquor was not just causing loss to the exchequer but had other implications. “In our shops, we issue annual contracts and the prescribed amount is stocked. This also means quality checks are done. But there is no way we can conduct these checks on smuggled alcohol, which may damage the health of people.” Mishra said almost 100% of the seizures are from Haryana.

The DCW chief said she suspected a nexus between the liquor mafia and police. “There is some direct nexus, otherwise why won’t the police be active in cracking down on the illegal liquor mafia. In our last raid, a police inspector and woman constable were beaten up and yet there was no FIR. This shows the nexus,” she said.

She said the Lieutenant Governor and the police commissioner needed to crack down on the liquor mafia.

Delhi police chief spokesperson, Dependra Pathak, contested these claims and said the force was proactive in curbing the illegal trade. On the spike in seizure of illicit liquor, he said it was more of a sign of better detection rather than a reflection on more sales. “In future, we would even consider stringent laws such as MCOCA on those found with repeated involvements,” he added.

Another problem is staff crunch. The excise department’s enforcement teams run with a skeletal staff of nine inspectors and 60 junior staff who are on deputation from Delhi Police.

The officials also questioned the excise policy of Haryana, saying it incentivised bulk sale and in order to meet sale targets, shop owners encouraged smuggling of countrymade liquor to Delhi.

Haryana’s acting excise commissioner Yogesh Kumar, however, said district-level teams were active in all areas to check the outflow.

First Published: Dec 26, 2017 11:39 IST