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Excise Department demands guns

With an increase in the number of notorious bootleggers, the state department feels an increasing need for their staff to be arme

The State Excise Department, which has been dealing with increasing cases of spurious liquor in the state, has demanded arms and ammunition for junior staff that conduct raids.

Confirming the news, Sanjay Mukherjee, State Excise Commissioner said, "The risk factor involved in these raids is serious and squad needs to be well equipped. I have demanded for arms and ammunition for Sub Inspectors and constables. The arms are necessary when the department staff raid remote and notorious areas in Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Gorai and Thane, where these bootleggers operate."

An officer, on condition of anonymity, told Sunday MiD DAY that there has been a tremendous rise in the quantities of spurious liquor flowing into the city, due to the sudden increase in taxes. "We need to be well armed before conducting raids as some of the bootleggers can be very dangerous," the officer said.

Recently, three trucks bringing liquor worth Rs 72 lakh, Rs 36 lakh and Rs 22 lakh each into the state were seized near Gujarat border. "Such massive inflow of liquor clearly indicates the rise of bootleggers in the state.

To deal with them we need to ensure our safety first," said an officer of the Flying Squad.

The department has also requested the Collector's office to immediately hire women constables, who can accompany the squad during such raids as there has been an increase in the number of women involved in selling and making spurious liquor.

"These bootleggers are often found using women as their shield for indulging in these activities. Hence, there is an urgent need of women in squads. The new law that has 30 per cent quota reserved for women gives us an added advantage," Mukherjee said.

Maharashtra has 12 border check posts and every check post has a five person unit that includes an Inspector, a sub inspector and three constables. The duty of the unit at the check post is to keep a watch on smuggling of illicit liquor, spirit and molasses etc, liquor without valid licence and transport permits.

The state has 43 Flying Squads. Mumbai City, Mumbai Suburban, Thane, Raigad, Pune, Ahmednagar, Nashik and Nagpur have two flying squads each. The rest of the 27 districts have only one flying squad each. Each squad has an Inspector, two Sub Inspectors, three constables and a driver.

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