Check the quality of your brand of rum or whiskey from the military canteen if you are sourcing them through unofficial channels. The demand for liquor from the Canteen Stores Department units, popularly known as military canteens, has prompted bootleggers to enter this space with spurious liquor.
The Excise Department officials, for the first time in Bangalore, stumbled upon this liquor bootlegging racket during a raid last week at Yelahanka and Kammagondanahalli on the outskirts of the city. As much as 1,359 litres of spurious liquor bearing the defence liquor label were seized in the raid.
The lure of “defence liquor” that comes at up to 50 per cent less than the market price (depending on the brands), has prompted bootleggers to enter the spurious liquor business by manufacturing spirit, branding it as “For Defence Personnel Only” with fake labels, and supplying it in bulk to liquor shops on highways and dabhas.
This comes just as the Excise Department is investigating the involvement of Defence personnel in the pilferage of subsidised genuine liquor from the Defence canteens.
The investigation led them to a manufacturing unit at Shyamarajapura in Yelahanka, where all the ingredients used in the preparation of spirit were stored. The recovered material included caramel, an ingredient used for blending with cheap liquor to achieve the taste and smell of “defence liquor”, duplicate glass and plastic bottles, caps and brand labels and stickers.
“This is for the first time that we have come across bootleggers manufacturing spurious defence liquor,” said Superintendent of Excise Department, Bangalore, Shivanna Gowda.
One of the accused Raghavendra has been arrested six times on the charge of bootlegging, he said and added that his brother, Sreenivasa, against whom nine cases are pending, is still at large.
According to Mr. Shivanna Gowda, the reason for producing spurious “defence liquor” is that though the margins are not much, there is demand and also a guarantee of people buying it.
Apart from investigating illegal liquor racket, the Excise Department is looking into the alleged involvement of Defence personnel in the pilferage of subsidised genuine liquor from the canteens, Mr. Shivanna Gowda said.
Pointing at three specific instances of persons selling genuine defence liquor in the open market, he said that in the last week of December 2012, when the demand for liquor rose due to New Year celebrations, the officials recovered large quantities of “defence liquor” from unauthorised persons.
While Satish Murthy Rao, one of the accused found in possession of 42 litres of “defence liquor”, S. Prabhakar, another accused, was caught with 140 litres of liquor.
In another case, the officials seized 63 litres of liquor, but the accused escaped.
The Excise officials have brought the matter to the notice of the Defence authorities.
“It their responsibility now to find out the root cause of the problem,” he said.
Meanwhile, a Defence Ministry spokesperson acknowledged that they were aware of the issue, and that they were looking into it. “We cannot respond till the completion of investigation,” the spokesperson said.