Gujarat has long been a dry state, where processing even a bottle of booze can land one in jail for up to 10 years. Despite this, at least 43 persons have been caught for this violation in Ahmedabad itself in the last three years, according to a government report.
While Surat topped the charts with an average of 72 cases reported daily and 78,946 total cases between 2020-21 and 2022-23, Ahmedabad registered 46,750 cases in these three years, according to the data tabled in the Gujarat assembly.
These figures, presented in response to a question by MLA Shailesh Parmar, show a surprising increase in cases year on year. In 2021-22, cases surged by 3.65%, reaching 15,637 compared to the previous year’s 15,086. And in 2022-23, the numbers increased by 2.5%, totalling 16,027 cases.
The numbers might be just a fraction of actual cases, an official said, adding, people are often nabbed through human intelligence or by night patrols, not all of which are recorded.
Around 40% of the cases are in the western part of the city, with the remaining 60% are from the eastern part, especially industrial areas like Odhav, Vatva, Narol, and Naroda where the labour population is concentrated. In about 30% of these cases, they’re busted with country liquor, often just a litre or two. In contrast, cases in the western part of the city mainly imbibe Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL).
Liquor suppliers are getting clever, though, with new tricks up their sleeves to transport consignments. Lately, they’ve been caught red-handed in high-end or mid-segment luxury cars. Most of this booze makes its way into the city from neighbouring states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, especially from Udaipur and Mount Abu. Officials said over 15,000 cases were reported even during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020-21. Apparently, not even a pandemic could deter the thirst for a tipple.
Checking every truck entering the state is impossible, said the officer. So, cops rely on human intelligence and tip-offs to keep tabs on bootleggers. It’s not just men, by the way; women have also been caught red-handed, often in the driver’s seat. Viral videos are a testament to this tipsy trend. Ahmedabad Police Commissioner Gyanender Singh Malik sees this rise in prohibition cases as proof of vigilant policing. “I have sent a stern message to my senior officers: zero tolerance for anything related to drugs or alcohol,” he said.
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