M.T. Shiva Kumar
Bangalore: As illicit liquor brewers get ready to meet the increasing demand for their products in the run-up to the elections, the State Police is gearing up to face the situation.
Mysore is considered to have the highest consumption of illicit liquor during elections, and this district will be the foremost target of the Excise Enforcement and Lottery Prohibition Wing (EELPW), a unit of the Karnataka State Police. Udupi, Belgaum, Hassan, Gulbarga, Bellary and Mandya are the other towns which are on the radar of the police.
The Intelligence Bureau of the Police Department will act in tandem with the EELPW. The police had decided to target illicit breweries after the State Election Commission directed them to do so, said K. Manjunath, Superintendent of Police, EELPW.
Speaking to The Hindu here on Thursday, the officer said: “Instructions have been given to the officials of EELPW as well as the police across the State. Recently, the EC had instructed us to tighten vigil. We are keeping an eye on commercial and non-commercial vehicles carrying liquor or other excisable commodities on almost all highways in the State.”
Since January 2008, the EELPW conducted raids across the State and recorded 1,443 cases of illicit liquor transportation. At least Rs. 9.86 crore-worth illicit liquor was seized and 1,860 persons arrested, the officer told The Hindu. From March 1, 2009, officials of the EELPW have detected 101 such cases and seized Rs. 88.35-lakh worth illicit liquor, of which Rs. 45.92-lakh worth liquor was seized in Mysore.
Politicians of several Karnataka districts have placed orders for spirit, liquor, foreign wines, whiskies and other alcohol from Goa, said another officer of the EEPLW, under the condition of anonymity. The cost of liquor in Goais relatively lower than Karnataka. This has lead to enhanced trade between Karnataka and Goa over the decades, especially during elections. The EELPW has instructed the State police to take action against bootleggers involved in the trade. “Recently, we wrote to the Superintendents of Police of all districts to keep an eye on the supply of illicit liquor, Mr. Manjunath said.
Since liquor supply is suspected to play a major role in winning votes, bootleggers become more active during elections. The EELPW will intensify vigilance, the officer said. Cases will be transferred to the local police and the seized liquor and other material will be handed over to the Excise Department.