Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, January 12
With the Punjab Government tightening its noose against illicit liquor trade, bootleggers in the state are now using residential flats for bottling imported liquor brands, rather than abandoned warehouse or factory.
In a major crackdown, the Punjab Excise Department, along with the state police, busted an interstate gang involved in smuggling cheap liquor from Chandigarh into Punjab and further filling it in bottles of expensive brands, mainly imported liquor, from a residential complex at Zirakpur.
“We nabbed Jatinder Pal Singh, alias JP, receiving a consignment of empty bottles, mono cartons and caps of imported liquor brands from a Volvo bus in Zirakpur on the intervening night of January 4 and 5. The bus was coming from Delhi. The team comprising of excise and police officials found empty bottles, mono cartons, lid and unused caps of imported liquor brands in the consignment,” said Rajat Aggarwal, Excise Commissioner, Punjab, while addressing the media during a press conference.
“Later, the team raided his residence at Motia Royal Citi, Zirakpur, where we found bottles of imported liquors as well as Indian liquor. The team also raided the godown-cum-residence of Singh and his accomplice Vijay Kumar at Jamuna Enclave, Zirakpur, where we found empty bottles of famous foreign liquor as well as mono cartons, unused caps, neck labels and extra neutral alcohol,” he said.
“This is the first instance where we have found that illicit liquor trade was being carried from a flat. Normally, it is done from abandoned godown or factory,” said Rajat.
During investigation, the accused admitted that he smuggles cheap liquor brands from a Chandigarh-based liquor contractor, Ashu Goel, on a regular basis and procures empty bottles, caps and other material from New Delhi.
“He had a set-up at his residence where he used to fill cheap liquor into empty bottles of imported liquor brands and sell it to neighbouring states as well in Punjab,” he said.
He said an FIR had been registered against Jatinder Pal and three of his accomplices. The team also arrested Gurpreet Sidhu as Jatinder and his accomplices were hand in gloves with him. The team found the Punjab Police uniform, shoulder badges, revolvers, around 30 cell phones and a bullet-proof jacket from Sidhu. The teams also raided a godown of Ashu Goel, a Chandigarh-based liquor contractor, in Sector 29 where around 1,966 cases of liquor of various brands were found without holograms.
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