Gutkha raids by police, FSSAI in Coimbatore district raise questions as shop owner alleges planting of contraband

December 06, 2023 09:29 pm | Updated 09:29 pm IST - COIMBATORE

A trader from Keeranatham in Coimbatore has raised questions about the raid by the police and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for banned tobacco products in his shop and its subsequent sealing.

Jeyakumar, who runs a provision store at Vettaithottam at Keeranatham, alleged that the officials brought additional quantities of gutkha and accounted for them as the substances that were seized from his shop.

According to the shopkeeper-cum-driver, a policeman came to his shop on December 3 and asked if he was selling gutkha. The grocer claimed that he handed over a total of six sachets of banned tobacco products of three different brands.

The next day, a food safety officer (FSO), accompanied by two policemen from Kovilpalayam station, came to the shop. Mr. Jeyakumar alleged that one of the policemen carried gutkha in white gunny bag and entered the shop along with the FSO. They came out and the policemen randomly pulled out several sachets from the bag, accounting them as the contraband products seized from his shop the previous day. The shopkeeper also shared surveillance camera visuals of the incident.

Coimbatore District Superintendent of Police V. Badrinarayanan denied malpractice in the raid and sealing of the shop.

He said the police conducted the raid on December 3, without an FSO, and registered a First Information Report regarding the seizure on the same day. The next day, the police sent a letter to the FSO concerned, following which the official visited the shop. The police produced the already seized product when the FSO visited the shop, he said.

The shop was sealed on December 5. Mr. Jeyakumar wanted the SP to look into his grievances.

Meanwhile, the FIR registered by the police stated that the seized contraband items were destroyed at the same place on December 3, contrary to the claim by the police.

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