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Foreign liquor bottles seized from Calcutta spa

Seizure by the excise dept indicates bootleggers are trying to make a fast buck during the lockdown

By Monalisa Chaudhuri in Calcutta
  • Published 8.04.20, 2:27 AM
  • Updated 8.04.20, 2:27 AM
  • 2 mins read
Officials of the Calcutta (south) wing of the excise dept with the bottles of foreign liquor seized near Ballygunge Telegraph picture

At least 200 bottles of foreign liquor were seized from a closed spa near Ballygunge on Tuesday. They were to be sold to a “select clientele” at triple the MRP, the excise department has said.

The seizure by the department’s Calcutta (south) wing indicates bootleggers are trying to make a fast buck during the lockdown.

The bottles of wine and whisky is worth around Rs 15 lakh, an excise department official said. Some from the stock have been sold at close to triple the MRP, the official said.

The seized bottles will be kept at the department’s central godown in Muchipara till they are produced in court as exhibits during trial.

A sealed sample from among the seized bottles will be sent to the department’s chemical examiner to check for its authenticity, the official said. After such cases are disposed of, the department generally auctions the bottles and the money raised goes to the excise exchequer, the official said.

The lockdown on non-essential services, including the sale and distribution of liquor across the state, has left many people searching for liquor, even at a higher cost.

Initially, many had stocked bottles at home and even sought help from friends. But now, many have started looking for illegal means to get a taste of their drink.

“It is embarrassing to go to a friend’s place daily and there are so many restrictions on roads as well. I cannot tell cops that I am going to a friend’s place for a drink,” a bank official who lives in the Bhowanipore area said. “So, it is indeed a very tough situation for people like me.”

The excise department has arrested the spa owner, Anil Jaiswal.

“The spa was operational till before the lockdown. Now, it is being used as a godown to store liquor bottles,” another excise department official said.

Jaiswal apparently supplied liquor to a select few. He fell in the excise department’s trap when officials “penetrated” his client base and requisitioned several bottles, which he was about to sell at four times the MRP, the official said.

Jaiswal and his team had been arrested last year for illegal stock and sale of foreign liquor from his godowns on Sudder Street and in pockets of south Calcutta, an official said.

Excise officials said the seized bottles had been illegally procured from duty-free shops in the port area.

“The rule says two litres of foreign liquor can be bought against one passport. If someone possesses foreign liquor in bulk without being able to disclose its source, it indicates a racket,” the official said.