Special Correspondent

Thilakavathi cracks the whip on illicit brewers

`The city and its suburbs have been sanitised' A senior PEW official claims that simultaneous state-wide raids are going on apart from the intensive raids in the "grey" pockets of the districts such as Madurai, Perambalur and Tiruvallur

SALEM: Declaring a war against the illicit brew in Tamil Nadu from the soil of Salem district, where way back in 1936 total prohibition was promulgated for the first time in the then Chennai region, the Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Prohibition Enforcement, G. Thilakavathi personally led the raids against the ``elusive'' brewers of the killer blend in urban and rural areas.

Bootlegger apprehended

The day-long operation, which began in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, included raids in tiny hill hamlets, remote villages and urban and suburban pockets of Salem city.

After a house-to -house search operation in a pocket in the city, the ADGP and her team of officers could apprehend a bootlegger against whom a warrant was pending for more than two months.

She visited Krishnapuram near Attur which has the dubious distinction of having the maximum number of illicit brewers and where the local police and the prohibition enforcement wing (PEW) personnel were scared to carry out raids.

A few months ago these brewers from Krishnapuram and its surrounding hillside hamlets detained a raiding police party for a night causing even injuries on a few cops.

A battalion of Special Armed police had to be dispatched to rescue them.

Such was their strength.

The ADGP also visited Varagampadi, a city suburb, which for generations had promoted the "community brewing". Police had a tough time to wean its residents away from this illegal vocation.

Those who gave up the profession were provided with bank loans and livestock as part of their rehabilitation process.

"The city and its suburbs have been sanitised. I have asked the habitual brewers not to return to their profession," the ADGP said. They also submitted a few petitions in which they listed out their demands. Till recently it boasted of nearly 100 brewers, including women, and all of them have now served prison terms either under the Goondas' Act or Bootleggers' Act. A senior PEW official claimed that simultaneous state-wide raids were going on apart from the intensive raids in the "grey" pockets of the districts such as Madurai, Perambalur, Tiruvallur, North Arcot and South Arcot.