Mumbai man uses Whatsapp to vend hooch under upmarket brand names

The state excise department has fallen upon a new method bootleggers are employing to palm off hooch. On December 24, the officials under director Prasad Surve’s supervision laid a trap in a hotel at Govandi and arrested a man called Shravan Purohit under section 73 and 74 of the Bombay Prohibition Act, after he circulated a Whatsapp message proclaiming to sell exceptionally cheap branded liquor, claiming it was duty free. The department seized 11 bottles of spurious scotch whisky and a four-wheeler worth around Rs 3,45,930 from him. The accused was also involved in selling the liquor on social media.

Fancy label, fake liquor: The excise team with the seized bottles 

Investigation Officer Shankar Amberkar said, “Purohit worked very cleverly. He’d take the customer’s address and verify it to see that the person was genuine. He delivered the liquor only to those with expensive cars.”

Inspector Subhash Jadhav added, “Shravan Purohit, who called himself ‘Rohit’, worked under different names. We came to know his real name through his ID card. He had around 10 boys to help him with the promised free home deliveries. His boss Ramesh Parmar is still absconding.”

The liquor seized from Purohit had labels such as Johnny Walker, Teacher’s and Glenfiddich among many other upscale foreign brands.

To rein in such illegal trade, 252 excise squads — 30 for Mumbai alone — have been formed. Subhash Bodke, excise superintendent (suburbs), said, “We began with regular vigilance in all areas a month before to ensure these activities do not occur on New Year’s.”

He added, “The Whatsapp messages began in December and were aimed to attract people to illicit liquor. The department has detained the people responsible for this.”

Excise officials will be on their toes from Saturday to January 1 to intercept transport of illegitimate liquor, especially at hotspots like Gorai.

They are also checking Whatsapp for messages regarding sale of illegal liquor.

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