Liquor trader Vishwanath Sah managed to give police the slip but his property was attached, following chief minister Nitish Kumar’s directive to bring the illicit trade under the purview of economic offences wing.
A police team, led by Motipur station house officer Rakesh Dutt Pandey, conducted a surprise raid at Vishwanath’s house in the Purani Bazaar area, around 115km northwest of Patna, on Wednesday night. The trader, however, managed to escape.
Nitish, who was in Muzaffarpur on Sunday to address an Adhikar Rally, had ordered the district administration to bring the business of illicit liquor under the purview of the economic offences wing, providing a fillip to the endeavour of women to fight the menace in several villages of Muzaffarpur.
On September 23, excise officials had conducted raids at his house and found 1,100 litres of hooch, raw material, wrappers and other tools used to manufacture and refill bottles and pouches of liquor.
Excise superintendent Ganesh Prasad said Vishwanath had been running the illicit wine unit in Motipur for decades. District magistrate (DM) Santosh Kumar Mall said he has suspended excise circle inspector Sagir Ahamd Khan for his alleged links with the trader.
“The excise officials have also seized truckloads of containers filled with illicit liquor in Harpur, Kathaiya, Naryar and Motipur. The containers were owned by Vishwanath,” the DM said.
Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Rajesh Kumar told The Telegraph that the police in Muzaffarpur started the process of seizing illegal property of Vishwanath following the chief minister and director-general of police Abhayanand’s order in the wake of reports of illegal liquor manufacturing units thriving in the district.
The SSP said he was in constant touch with senior police officers in Bengal, Uttar Pardesh, Madhya Pradesh and New Delhi and a team of officers had been constituted to arrest Vishwanath.
He added that 14 passbooks of several nationalised and private banks and four ATM cards were found at his house during the raid. The police also found documents of four buildings — two in Calcutta and as many in Motipur — that the liquor trader had built. The senior officer added that the buildings in Motipur were worth over Rs 2 crore.
Sources said Vishwanath also owned landed and agricultural property in Motipur, the documents of which were recovered during the search operation. The police are verifying the bank accounts to ascertain how he made money.