This poll season, liquor smugglers pick rail routes in Bihar, Gujarat
New Delhi, May 17: In 'dry' Bihar and Gujarat, liquor has found a new route as road routes are being guarded by paramilitary and the local police to enforce the model code of conduct to check smuggling of liquor and cash.
A senior Railway Ministry official said that after the model code of conduct came into force across the country on March 10, trains going to the dry states like Bihar and Gujarat in the last two months have reported a spurt in the number of the incidents of 'chain-pulling' (to stop a running train).
"As Bihar and Gujarat are dry states, transporting liquor in these two states has become very tough as the road routes are being guarded by paramilitary forces as well as the state police, which conduct extensive checking of vehicles for liquor smuggling and cash flow," said the official.
"Thus it forced the bootleggers to shift to the train route to transport their shipments, which in return has resulted in a spurt in the incidents of alarm chain pulling (ACP) in trains in these two states. Forcing trains to stop badly affects the schedule," he said.
The manufacture, storage, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages of liquor was completely banned in Bihar after the Nitish Kumar government returned to power in 2015 in the state, while in Gujarat the sale, consumption and storage of liquor is banned since 1960.
Worried over the incidents of the alarm chain pulling (ACP), L.C. Trivedi General Manager of East Central Railways and Ravindra Verma Inspector General of Railway Protection Force (RPF) held a meeting with the Bihar Director General of Police (DGP) Gupteshwar Pandey at its zonal headquarters in Hajipur.
ECR spokesperson Rajesh Kumar told IANS: "The DGP and the GM of ECR have discussed the spurt in incidents of ACP during odd-hours and at odd locations far away from the stations."
He said three railway routes in the state -- Ara-Patna, Chapra-Hajipur and Hajipur-Muzaffarpur -- have reported high incidents of 'chain pulling'.
He said following reports of the ACP at off-hours in the long-distance trains, the railways formed a flying squad and also increased patrolling along the three routes.
"The task of the flying squad and the patrol team was to arrest those who pulled the ACP to stop the train at an unscheduled location," he said.
Kumar said that in April, 362 cases of ACP were received and 393 people were arrested. The railways also collected a fine of Rs 2.91 lakh in April in Bihar.
He said that the from May 1 to May 12 in Bihar, 125 cases of ACP were recieved and 190 people arrested. He said so far none of railway employee has been detained for illegal smuggling of liquor.
However, railway sources indicated that the local railway employees were also playing a major role in liquor smuggling.
A senior ECR official said that from January 1, 2019 to April 30, 2019 a total of 909 ACP incidents were reported and 1,460 people were arrested.
Western Railway spokesperson Ravinder Bhaker said, "Following a spurt in the incidents of the ACP in the western railway zone, we sent teams in plain clothes to arrest those who stopped the train by using the ACP".
He said in the Western Railway zone, the Vapi-Surat route was most affected, reporting high incidents of chain pulling.
A senior railway official said that the Vapi-Surat route was most affected due to its proximity with Daman and Diu, known for illegal liquor trade.
However, Bhaker did not share the number of the incidents of chain pulling and the people arrested in the case.
During this election season, the Election Commission has seized liquor worth Rs 285 crore till the end of the sixth phase of polling on May 12.