NDRF recovers 132 liquor bottles from canal in Gujarat

NDRF recovers 132 liquor bottles from canal in Gujarat, 7 policemen booked

Representative image. (Credit: AFP Photo)

Seven policemen, including a police inspector, were booked for bootlegging under the stringent sections of the liquor prohibition law on Sunday after a diving team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) recovered 132 liquor bottles, worth Rs1.92 lakh, over the last two days from Narmada canal in Mehsana district of north Gujarat. The liquor prohibition law attracts 10 years of imprisonment if the accused are proven guilty.

Said to be a one-of-its-kind case, the FIR was registered at Kadi police station against its police inspector O M Desai, police sub-inspectors A S Khara, K N Patel, four assistant sub-inspectors identified as Mohanbhai Haribhai, Hitendrakumar Kantilal, Prahladbhai Patel and Shaileshbhai Patel on Sunday late in the night. The remaining two accused are- Girish Parmar, a home guard jawan and Chirag Prajapati who works as Gramin Raksha Dal.

"We have registered an FIR against nine accused including seven policemen under various sections of Indan Penal Code including conspiracy, Criminal breach of trust by public servant, Mischief by injury to public road, bridge, river or channel, destruction of evidence and section 65 E, 81 among others under prohibition act," Gandhinagar Superintendent of Police Mayur Patel told DH. Patel has been investigating the case and on whose initial probe the case was registered.

Section 65 E of Gujarat Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 2017 pertains to liquor seizure in huge quantities that attracts punishment of up to ten years in jail. Police said that in the last two days teams of NDRF have recovered 132 intact liquor bottles and that's why this section was invoked. It has been alleged that the accused policemen were selling the liquor from the police station premises and consuming it personally.

The investigation is said to have revealed that a large amount of unaccounted liquor consignment was found in the police record while they were counting them for destroying as per the provision. Confiscated liquor is destroyed in presence of officials including district administration every year. However, for the past couple of years Kadi police hadn't followed it.

While they were tallying the record, it was found that the liquor consignment was much bigger than what was reflected on the record. The accused policemen allegedly started selling excess liquor from premises of police line with the help of the bootleggers.

"Someone tipped off the Director General of Police (DGP), Shivanand Jha who ordered vigilance team to raid but it was leaked to the accused. The liquor consignment was moved and one of the accused was asked to hide it in a safe place. It was found that some of the liquor cartons were sold by one of the accused (home guard jawan) to a bootlegger and many of them were dumped in the canal in a hurry," said a senior police officer. He added that a special investigation team has been set up to probe the matter further. The investigation should be able to find out how the accused were selling the liquor, to whom it was being sold and since how long it was going on.

The FIR, based on statement of five witnesses including policemen posted with the Kadi police station, states the accused policemen told them to dump the liquor consignment in the canal. The liquor was ferried in seven vehicles requisitioned for dealing with coronavirus related deployment.

The NDRF team found intact whiskey bottles of brands such as Royal Challenge, Rock and Storm, Party Special, Crazy Romeo (for sale only in Arunchal Pradesh), among others. The team recovered 132 bottles of the liquor worth Rs1.92 lakh in two days of search operation.

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