Bootlegging from Haryana unabated despite crackdown
Bathinda: As farmer Harjinder Singh, along with his child, approaches the Punjab-Haryana border on his motorcycle, the police signal him to stop. They note down his name, the vehicle number and the mobile phone number. They check his vehicle before letting him enter Punjab.
The Punjab Police have pulled out all the stops to curb liquor smuggling from Haryana, where liquor is 30 to 40 per cent cheaper. They have set up check posts, including one each in Doomwali village on the Dabwali-Bathinda road, Natheha village and Teona Pujaria village, along the interstate border.
More than 100 police personnel have been deployed along the border, but smuggling continues unabated. Bootleggers are pushing illicit liquor into Punjab, primarily from Sirsa and Dabwali in Haryana.
A police official says, “Nobody will dare smuggle liquor through a route where check post has been set up. Those involved in the trade are well aware of the internal link roads that lead to Bathinda.”
He admits patrolling is a better option than setting up check posts.
Some cops, on patrolling duty, move in vehicles of liquor contractors of Punjab along with their men. Another cop says there are 14 routes to enter Punjab from Haryana. There is another route along a drain.
The police say it is not every day that they make liquor recovery. Smugglers have taken the rail route.
Liquor smuggling is leading to losses to contractors in Bathinda and adjoining areas. A contractor has announced a cash reward to anyone providing information about bootleggers.
From April 1 to October 30, the Bathinda police registered 919 cases under the Excise Act. They arrested 934 accused and seized 290 vehicles.
Bathinda SSP Naveen Singla claims the police have curbed liquor smuggling to a large extent. “About 1,000 cases were registered in the past seven to eight months. A number of link roads connecting Haryana with Punjab make our job difficult. It is impossible to check every vehicle, but we are still cracking down on offenders,” he adds.