From Selling Fruit To Liquor, The Rise Of Bootlegging King Vinod Sindhi

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From Selling Fruit To Liquor, The Rise Of Bootlegging King Vinod Sindhi

| Updated: November 7, 2022 19:42

It’s election time and the police are busy raiding the ‘liquor dens’ across the state, and especially in cities such as Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat. The kingpin controlling almost 90% illicit liquor business in Gujarat, a man named Vinod Sindhi, is believed to be hiding in Dubai and pulling the strings from there.

The story of Vinod Sindhi is typical Bollywood stuff – the rise from poverty to controlling the cops and greasing politicians’ palms. A fruit vendor becoming the king of a liquor cartel makes for a compelling narrative for a Ram Gopal Varma film. But this is the true story of Sunil Kevalramani, alias Vinod Sindhi, Gujarat’s liquor don, who’s suspected to have fled to Dubai, apprehending an immediate arrest.

Unless you’re a face reader, his image — showing his swollen nose bridge and twisted lip — betrays nothing sinister about the man whose backstory has created an interest after the State Monitoring Cell (SMC) issued a red notice to the law enforcement worldwide to locate him.

From selling fake liquor even to his own syndicate to developing strong connections that included six police constables and some influential officers, this bootlegger became a wanted man for his involvement in 38 cases of alcohol trading. Unsurprisingly, the bank balance of this well-networked man swelled to the tune of crores. But there was a time Vinod and his brother, Ado, who drove a fruit lorry, lived a life of deep penury.

In a detailed investigation, The Vibes of India delves deep into Vinod’s past when he was a wholesale trader of salted snacks in Vadodara. VOI had reported that the idea of a liquor business flashed in Vinod’s mind when he were having snacks with alcohol.

It’s held he took his first steps into the business around the time Kailash Lathi, one of the biggest suppliers of illegal liquor in Gujarat, had been spreading his tentacles far and wide. He would run the business in Kaliya Kuva in Gujarat’s Sabar Kantha District.  

Kailash and a gangster Mukesh Harjani became the prime source for Vinod’s liquor supplies at ‘cutting places’, a term used for stops where vehicles containing liquor assemble. Making inroads into the illegal liquor marketplace, Vinod, with support from the dreaded Mukesh, used two Indica cars to run his network in Vadodara, Gandhinagar, and urban areas.  In Gandhinagar, he befriended two famous bootleggers, Mafa Maravadi and Dilip Maravadi, to exchange varieties of liquor. Madhya Pradesh and Haryana became his business hotspots too.

Mukesh coerced Dilip to accommodate Vinod in his residence. It led to a productive association between Dilip and Vinod that started in 2008 with a promise for more.

It was a matter of time before Vinod distanced himself from Kailash and one of his partners Jogindra Sharma. Under the umbrella of a policeman named Suresh, Vinod shifted base to Haryana for two years to bide his time. Strategically, it made sense, for Mukesh had also been demanding a greater share of the profits. A fallout between Mukesh and Vinod was inevitable.

If Vinod needed a stroke of luck, it came his way when Mukesh was imprisoned in connection with the murder case of Anand councillor Alpesh Chako. With Kailash tiring and Mukesh behind the bars, Vinod now had a free field to be the undisputed boss of the illicit liquor ring. With the help of his police network, it was a matter of time before he shunted Dilip aside.

Now, his network flourished even more. His chain of suppliers extended to Chandigarh, Ambala, Rotak and Alwar. A liquor merchant named Gaba became one of his key accomplices.  New names like Labda Suresh from Nadiad became part of his network.  Nadiad, Bhavnagar, Rajkot, Junagadh, Jamnagar and Anand were his areas of operations.

By the time Mukesh was released from prison, Vinod had become too big. When Mukesh was killed, his decks had cleared completely.

Gradually, Vinod had created a base in Ahmedabad too, supplying liquor to Kamlesh S, alias Bhaiya, who ran an alcohol nexus, after obtaining an illegal licence from an IPS officer. He also exploited the government rule of 15 years of free tax benefits on liquor. He understood the right strategic points for his business like setting up a liquor factory in Himachal Pradesh for the good quality of water there.

Functioning like a fox, he would parcel cheap goods in expensive bottles and even had his own man in the State Monitoring Cell. He understood the investment game too as he aligned with businesses to buy cheap liquor and sold them at higher rates.

Agile and quick on his feet, Vinod stayed ahead of the game even in the most intricate situations. Once when one of his warehouses was raided, he left his revolver with the police and fled the place. He would have 50-odd dogs patrolling his areas to counter police raids.

Along the way, he developed his public relations skills immensely. Giving Diwali gifts to influential people, having informers at critical points and buying off IPS officers became part of his gameplan. Expanding his team, he engaged sharp minds, including a liquor contractor named Asu, who would become his right-hand man.

Vinod’s whereabouts are not known at the time of writing this piece. The tragedy of Vinod’s life is not the ill-fated end that awaits him. He trained his rare mind to scheme when it could have been used for bright feats to benefit humankind.

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