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Law run over as liquor sold on wheels in Talwandi Sabo, with a loudspeaker!

Pick-up vehicle with loudspeaker makes rounds of the religious town near Bathinda where liquor sale is anyway not permitted; police struggle to trace vehicle caught on video.

punjab Updated: Mar 31, 2018 09:31 IST
Sachin Sharma
Sachin Sharma
Hindustan Times, Bathinda
liquor sale,desi liquor,country liquor
The vehicle with loudspeaker making announcement of “heavy discount” on liquor, in Talwandi Sabo, 30km from Bathinda, on Friday. (Photo: Grab from video by local resident who sought anonymity)

Mukk gayi... mukk gayi... sharaab mukk gayi!— that’s the announcement from a loudspeaker mounted on a pick-up vehicle making rounds of the rural town of Talwandi Sabo on Friday, telling people that “liquor is over”, but selling cheap! Not only is that illegal because publicity of liquor is not permitted, but it’s brazen too, as sale of liquor is not allowed at all in this town, 30km from here, that houses Takht Damdama Sahib, one of the five temporal seats of Sikhism.

The announcement in Punjabi — stock-clearance pitch for the last bit of stock left with a sales contractor on the penultimate day of the financial year — said a countrymade liquor bottle is available for Rs 70; whiskey at Rs 100, and so on, according to a viral video and local residents. That’s much below the minimum selling price set by the excise department, at Rs 170 a bottle for country liquor, for instance. Lowering of prices at this time is not new, and traders are known to use loudspeakers and even dhol beats at their shops. But this marketing style is new at least in these parts.

Excise and taxation officer RS Romana confirmed that no publicity of liquor can be done and liquor can’t be sold anyway in the religious town of Talwandi Sabo. But this vehicle even passed by the complex that houses the office of the sub-divisional magistrate, of which a video went viral on WhatsApp.

An area resident who shot the video but did not want to be named, told HT, “Selling from vehicles in Talwandi Sabo has been done before too. The loudspeaker was being used on Friday, though. I spotted at least one more such vehicle.”

When contacted, sub-inspector Sunil Kumar, station house officer of the local police, said he sent a team to trace the vehicle “but it had left the place where it had been spotted”. Deputy commissioner Diprava Lakra simply said police were asked to trace the vehicle.

Who was the seller, though? It must be noted that firms linked with former Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA Deep Malhotra dominate the business in Bathinda district. Circle in-charge of Malhotra’s liquor business, Amritpal Goyal, termed the episode “a conspiracy by opponents to defame us as our group has been allotted majority of zones in the district this year too”.

First Published: Mar 30, 2018 22:50 IST