Thursday 12 December 2019

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Issues | Liquor

Illicit liquor rackets busted

 

The state excise department has busted two rackets of illicit liquor like IMFL as well as imported scotch whisky, while suspecting it to be an inter-state racket managed from the tourist state.

Raids still continue as the department officials claim that they would expose more such rackets operated by different persons in different areas of the state.

Bharat Azgaonkar, a Goan who was earlier working as an informer of the excise department in Mumbai, is arrested while sealing the illegal bottle-filling distillery at his house, along with over 150 cases of illicit bottles, truck load of empty bottles as well as hand-sealing machine.

This included imported scotch like Jonny Walker, Black Dog, Ballan Fines, Mattel Cornac, Queen Anne, William Grant, Cuttysar and Whitehall as well as Gordon Rouge Brut champagne, mixed with IMFL whisky brands of Bagpiper and Seagram.

Azgaonkar admitted of having bought the original scotch whisky as well as empty bottles of imported scotch in Mumbai and mixing it with the local IMFL brands, selling it to the tourists along the coastal belt, especially during the season.

In another case, the excise officials have sealed two distilleries and one wine shop, while seizing at least five truckloads of empty bottles, two barrels of blended alcohol as well as illicit liquor bottles from the distilleries and the wine shops.

Running a racket through a distillery, which was shut down a year ago, its manager Vipul Hasmukhbhai Dhruv was distilling the liquor and filling it in popular whisky brands like Royal Stag, Gilbee and DSP and Old Monk rum.

After handing over both the cases to the crime branch of Goa police, Azgaonkar has been remanded to 10-day police custody in the scotch whisky case whereas Munna Shaikh and Govind - two salesmen - have been remanded till Monday in the IMFL case.

While police are on a lookout for Dhruv and Akbar Muhammad, both of them have applied for anticipatory bail. P S Reddy, the state excise commissioner, however has pulled up his sleeves to raid more such illegal liquor dens as he has found a diary listing out several such selling joints as well as distilleries.

Chief minister Manohar Parrikar, who suspects an inter-state racket behind it, has appealed to the wine shop owners to hand over all the illicit liquor bottles, with an assurance not to take action against them.

He has instructed the excise officials as well as the police not to spare anybody involved in the racket as, he states, Goa loses around Rs 20 crore annually. The state excise department contributes almost 35 per cent to the state revenue.






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