Excise minister, officers injured in hooch raid

Excise minister, officers injured in hooch raid

Look out: Excise Minister M P Renukacharya directing personnel of  the Excise Department to take action against bootleggers during a raid on the hillocks near Kharvi village in Belgaum taluk on Thursday. DH photo

Police opened fire in the air to disperse stone-pelting bootleggers, who took Excise Minister M P Renukacharya head-on and rained stones on him and the department personnel when they conducted raids on illicit liquor manufacturing units in the forests and hillocks at Kharvi village in Belgaum taluk on Thursday.

Renukacharya, who was in the city to attend a review meeting of the department, conducted surprise raids at Kharvi accompanied by the personnel from the Excise Department and a handful of policemen.

As the raiding team reached near some of the illicit liquor manufacturing units, the bootleggers rained stones on them, injuring some personnel from the department including V N Naik and Chaya Angadi.

Futile fire

Firing of about five rounds in the air did not deter the bootleggers and they managed to contain the step of the minister and the raiding personnel until more forces were sent  to tackle them.

Directions by the minister to the police to fire at the bootleggers did not yield results, with the police personnel stating they were not permitted to fire.

Counter-attack

Bootleggers hiding behind bushes and trees attacked the raiding team with stones and boulders from all directions that forced the minister as well as the personnel to run for cover.

The steep terrain made it difficult for the Excise Department and police personnel to navigate, while bootleggers fled from the scene apprehending being overpowered after the arrival of additional police forces.

Superintendent of Police Sandeep Patil along with other police officials undertook combing operation of the area, but could not nab those involved in raining stones.

Escapade

In the meantime, bootleggers had climbed an opposite hillock and managed to escape.

Minister Renukacharya had been camping at the site monitoring the operations to nab the bootleggers. He also took the lead in destroying the storing units and raw materials buried in the forests. Drums and other raw materials were set on fire.

When last reports came in, about 20 persons had been detained by the police.

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