Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, May 14
Just imagine that the expensive Johnnie Walker Blue Label bottle that you picked from a liquor vend was, in fact, cheap whiskey produced at a ‘bhatti’ in a Ludhiana village! The bottle, costing more than Rs 11,000, could very well be filled with cheap spirit sold for Rs 250.
The Jodhan police station in Ludhiana has been asked once again by the state bureau of investigation to look for clues to unravel the illegal operation of adulteration and packaging of major international brands. These include Chivas Regal, Glenlivet, Johnnie Walker and Grey Goose.
The case was reported on February 3 this year at Jodhan. DSP (Dakha) GS Bains said: “I received the file on Thursday from the bureau office. We will proceed towards arresting the accused very soon.”
The illegal bottling, labelling and packaging site at Khadur village allegedly had the backing of an influential liquor baron. The police had booked two workers, Amit Sharma Parmar of Ludhiana and Harpreet Singh of Khadur village. Both are said to be absconding.
Ankush Kumar and Rakesh, who were packing the bottles during the raid, were arrested but could not provide any information on how the operation — the sale of high-end adulterated bottles — was run.
Bains said what caught the police attention “was the professional manner in which the bottle packaging was being carried out to make the products look genuine. The unit had caps and corks, holograms and stickers”.
The FIR recorded 50 boxes of adulterated liquor, including Chivas Regal (20), 100 Pipers (21), Black Label (3) and Johnnie Walker Gold Label (1). Also found were 134 cases of empty bottles of top brands. The liquor being filled into the fake whiskey bottles was a cheap local brand called ‘999’, costing Rs 250 per bottle.
Citing the unearthing of an illegal liquor manufacturing unit at an abandoned cold storage near Rajpura on Thursday, an official of the Excise Department said: “The police need to catch the real faces behind the fake liquor business in the state”. The Tribune is in possession of a video showing, in great detail, the liquor adulteration unit in Ludhiana’s Khadur village. The details of the raid had remained under wraps for the past 3 months.