KERALA

Rural police on intensive anti-hooch drive

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Dec. 25. The Rural police have stepped up vigilance against the smuggling of illicit spirit into the district from across the Tamil Nadu border in view of the whopping domestic demand for liquor during the Christmas-New Year season.

The SP (Rural), G. Lekshman, said that the present trend was to smuggle spirit in small quantities.

Recently, the police seized 210 litres of spirit, which was cleverly concealed in the boot of a private car.

At Kallikadu, police intercepted a 20-litre spirit consignment that was hidden in the side-box of a motorbike.

At Aryanadu, police seized 130 litres of spirit which was being transported in a jeep.

In another instance at Neyyatinkara, police seized 35 litres of spirit from an autorickshaw.

Mr. Lekshman said that with thousands of vehicles passing every day through the 16 odd checkposts covering the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, checking for spirit was like searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack. "We are thinking of introducing specially trained police dogs to sniff out spirit concealed in cargo lorries and even private vehicles. But this would take time," he said.

The SP said that several known spirit smugglers have been arrested by the police. He identified those arrested as Sankurutty, a close associate of Nirmalan who is high on the wanted list of the Rural police for offences related to the violation of the Abkari Act, `Pambu' Unni and Chikku alias Shibu among several others.

Mr. Lekshman said the police have stumbled upon evidence pointing to the sale of diluted spirit disguised as toddy through certain licensed outlets in the rural district.

The police are taking samples from toddy outlets and getting them examined at the Laboratory of the Chief Chemical Examiner.

The alcohol content was found higher than the fixed eight per cent in the samples collected from two toddy shops at Kallambalam and Kattakada. The police have registered cases against the license holders, he said.

The Rural police have struck an arrangement with the laboratory whereby they can get the toddy sample results in one day.

The report will be filed in two days so that the police can act effectively against the violators, he said.

The police was also collecting samples of liquor sold through licensed bars.

The samples were being send to the laboratory for chemical examination.

Mr. Lekshman said the police have also been able to stamp out hooch distillation in areas such as Neyyatinkara and Nedumangadu sub-divisions.

However, a police official said that abkari enforcement was increasingly becoming an uphill task for the police.