The seized plastic drums at the district excise department office in Sakchi on Monday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
East Singhbhum excise officials along with a special police team raided Chotabanki along NH-33, around 7km from the steel city, on Monday and recovered huge quantities of mahua seeds and fermented brew from an illegal distillery.
“We seized 6,000kg of jawa mahua (as the seeds are called in local parlance) that were kept in 35 big plastic drums. Some of the drums were kept underground near a canal. This is one of our biggest seizures of jawa mahua this year,” said assistant commissioner (excise) Arvind Kujur.
The 40-member team, led by inspector Kshitiz Minz, also recovered over 600 litres of manufactured countrymade liquor from the same area.
“The distillery was functional in an area that was difficult to reach. By the time our vehicles reached the distillery, the manufacturer and other employees managed to escape and could not be arrested,” Kujur added.
Apart from Chotabanki area, the team also conducted a raid at Hurlung near Birsanagar, around 5km from the steel city, but there they drew a blank.
According to excise department officials, they have tip-offs about similar countrymade liquor outlets in Demkadih, Badabanki and Muktadih areas along NH-33 from where illegally manufactured liquor is sold to retail outlets across city.
“We have been directed by East Singhbhum deputy commissioner Amitabh Kaushal to continue our raids at illegal distilleries, especially in view of the forthcoming festive season and Assembly elections scheduled later this year,” said Kujur.
The district unit of the state excise department and the district police, headed by SSP Amol V. Homkar, have jointly adopted a twin strategy of raiding illegal distilleries and serving of booze at hotels, clubs and bars after 11pm.
According to licence terms, nobody is to be served liquor after 11pm at hotels, clubs and bars across the state. The excise department plans to simultaneously conduct surprise raids at all these places.
“The raids will begin within two-three days. If we find any hotel or bar serving liquor after 11pm, the owner will face a fine up to Rs 10,000. We may also cancel the licence,” the assistant commissioner added.