Spurt in smuggling of cheap Haryana liquor into Bathinda
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Spurt in smuggling of cheap Haryana liquor into Bathinda

Those owning bulk of liquor business say smuggling being done at behest of Bathinda traders having interests in Haryana

punjab Updated: Jul 19, 2017 21:52 IST
Sachin Sharma
Sachin Sharma
Hindustan Times, Bathinda
(HT Representative Image)

Smuggling of relatively cheaper liquor from neighbouring Haryana into Punjab’s Bathinda district has become a cause of concern for the district police as well as local liquor traders whose revenues have been hit hard.

As many as 344 cases were registered in Bathinda with a haul of 27,360 litres of smuggled country-made liquor seized between April and June this year after vends for the 2017-18 fiscal were allotted.

In July also, similar cases are being reported on a daily basis.

Only 3,099 litres of smuggled liquor was recovered in this border district in February and March with 79 cases registered.

In January, when the state was gearing up for assembly elections, 1.12 lakh litre smuggled liquor was seized with 72 cases registered.

A bulk of liquor business in Bathinda is allotted through auctioning to firms belonging to liquor baron and former Shiromani Akali Dal (MLA) Deep Malhotra.

Malhotra had earlier blamed Bathinda-based liquor traders with interests in liquor business in Haryana for the rise in smuggling. In April, Malhotra had met Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal requesting him to ensure check on liquor smuggling.

Interestingly, some Bathinda-based contractors at whom Malhotra has pointed a finger had switched their loyalties to the Congress from SAD before the assembly polls.

Even the police on several occasions have acknowledged that the smuggling is being done with the help of local liquor traders.

Such is the anxiety among some liquor traders here that they have put posters near vends and on vehicles announcing a reward of Rs 10,000 for providing information about smugglers.

Even as the police and the excise and taxation department claim the large recoveries show they doing their job, the rise in smuggling puts a question mark on their functioning as the bulk of smuggled liquor is going undetected.

Bathinda senior superintendent of police (SSP) Naveen Singla said they are working hard to keep tabs on liquor smuggling. “The main reason behind the spurt is a big difference in prices of liquor in Punjab and Haryana. Smuggling is also being done in villages but on a small scale.”

Smugglers purchase a box of country-made liquor containing 12 bottles at about Rs 800 in Haryana and sell it at Rs 1,400 while it is sold at Rs 3,000 in retail in Bathinda.

First Published: Jul 19, 2017 21:42 IST