Gutkha worth Rs.  2.58 lakh seized in Kashimira

Bhayandar : The notorious gutkha mafia seems to be unfazed by the recent crackdown initiated by Thane (rural) police and their FDA counterparts to clamp down on illegal trade of banned tobacco products. The authorities have been seizing gutkha and scented tobacco products worth lakhs of rupees in dozens of raids conducted in the past couple of months. However, the racket involved in smuggling of banned products into Maharashtra from neighbouring states like Gujarat continues unabated.

The Local Crime Branch (LCB) team led by API Atul Aher and Food Security Officer Manek Jadhav intercepted two vehicles including a Tata Sumo and a high-end SUV near Hotel Sai Palace on Mumbai Ahemdabad highway and seized several gunny bags stashed with gutkha sachets and scented tobacco of various brands late on Tuesday night. The value of the seized consignment is Rs. 2.58 lakh. Both the vehicles were headed from an industrial zone of Vapi to Mumbai, police said. Three persons identified as Atmaram Keshav Bansode (36), Nisar Ahmed Shaikh (39) and Sachin Manohar Rane (30) have been arrested and booked under relevant sections of the IPC and the Food Safety and Standards Act. The accused have been remanded to police custody. After every raid police officials claims to carry out investigations to ascertain the source and destination of the illegal consignment. However, the accused get bail and get back to their nefarious activities.

According to a senior official, the clampdown on factories manufacturing gutkha pouches had little effect in other states. The banned products were flowing into Mumbai, Thane and other parts of the state.

Suresh Golani

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