After long months of slumber following a crackdown by the authorities, the illegal pan masala trade is slowly staging a comeback, especially in the rural areas of the district.

The demand among migrant workers and inter-State lorry drivers has been pushing sales, sources said.

Availability

Wayside petty traders had been selling the product sourced from distant locations and brought to the district by train. Kaninatti, Vellikulangara, Orkkattery, Villiyappally, and Vadakara town had a number of shops which discreetly stocked the product, sources said.

Though the number of vendors in pan masala trade was relatively low, migrant workers were making bulk purchases. Pan masala had the highest number of dealers and clients in rural areas, anti-drug activists in the region said.

Main buyers

“Most of the shops function after dusk and migrant labourers are the major buyers,” said Mahesh Kainatti, a youth club office-bearer from Vadakara. The local police were not carrying out checks at such shops, he said.

Porous station

The Vadakara railway station had limited or no facilities to screen the baggage carried by passengers and this was the major ‘source station’ for carriers.

Except for occasional checks in trains there was no permanent mechanism to check the inflow of the product. Office-bearers of a Vadakara-based citizens’ forum said there were at least eight petty shops in Vadakara alone which sold pan masala.

They too were critical of the inaction of the police.

Forum office-bearers K.M. Bhaskaran and K. Vasudevan said they would seek other options if the police remained mute spectators.

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