Excise officials were taken by surprise yesterday when they found 105 Scotch bottles hidden in suitcases filled with ladies undergarments and other clothes. In the run-up to the BMC elections, the excise department had tightened their vigil, in an attempt to avoid any alcohol smuggling. However, during one of their raids, they found the expensive alcohol in the bags of four people returning to the city from Goa.

Booze watch: Excise officials seized the high-end alcohol from four
people travelling in the bus. Officials claim that the alcohol was to be
resold in the city for double the price. Pic/Sunil Tiwari

The incident occurred yesterday when officials decided to carry out a check on a luxury bus returning from Goa at the Mankhurd check post. "We decided to check luxury buses on February 15, 16 and 17 as they have been declared as dry days for the elections. This is the time when most people try to sneak in illegal alcohol into the city and sell it at a higher price," said BK More, inspector, excise.

While checking the passengers' luggage, they came across four bags that on first look only had ladies undergarments but during a thorough check, the bottles were recovered. "The liquor seized was worth Rs 49,075. However, the amount is the selling price of alcohol in Goa and in Mumbai that would beĀ  double. There are chances that the alcohol was bought in order to resell at a higher cost," explained Vijay Shardul, deputy superintendent, suburb (Excise).

The accused identified as Hemant Jain, Sayyed Anwar, Regimose Fernandez and Valentino Fernandez were caught on the spot and produced in court for illegally possessing alcohol. When the alcohol was found, the four gave an excuse that they were going to Gujarat from Goa via Maharashtra and showed a Goan drinking permit.

More added, "The paperwork shown by the four was simply drinking permits. However, that is not enough. We are investigating if they have any connection to a political party or any bootlegging group."