Jorhat, March 25: The Jorhat district administration has installed CCTVs at bonded warehouses in the district to monitor daily sale of liquor to the outlets to prevent free distribution of the brew by political parties to woo voters which has been a common practice in Upper Assam tea gardens.
With Jorhat district sharing a vast boundary with Nagaland, which is a dry state, liquor is reportedly smuggled to the neighbouring state. During election time, the demand for liquor in Nagaland increases as the alcoholic beverage is distributed free among voters by the parties.
In January last year, on the eve of Nagaland Assembly polls, Mariani police here seized several consignments of India-made foreign liquor while those were being transported to Nagaland. Police arrested more than 10 people.
The move comes in the wake of a recent directive by the Election Commission to keep a close watch on sale of liquor by bonded warehouses.
Addressing reporters, Jorhat deputy commissioner S.V. Vasant, who is also the returning officer for the Jorhat Lok Sabha seat, said CCTVs were installed at all the five bonded warehouses of the district to keep tabs on lifting of stocks by the outlets.
He said a monitoring team under a deputy superintendent of excise has been formed to keep a watch on the warehouses. “The team will view CCTV footages if they suspect any possibility of illegal sale of liquor or a sharp rise in sales.”
Vasant said each warehouse was submitting daily sales report to the deputy commissioner’s office a copy of which was provided to the general observer deputed by the poll commission. He forwards a copy to the commission.
The excise team is comparing sales of each day with the corresponding day of the last month to see whether there was a sharp increase in liquor sale, he said.
Vasant said if the team detected any sharp rise in liquor sale for distribution among voters, then it would carry out a detailed investigation.
Jorhat superintendent of police Amanjeet Kaur told reporters that 5,498 litres of illicit liquor and 14kg ganja had been seized by the police since March 5 (date on which election schedule was announced) in a special drive.