Bhayandar: As the entire nation grapples with the deadly coronavirus pandemic, the notorious guthka mafia continues with their money-minting exercise by brazenly exploiting the rising demand for the banned substances in the twin-city.
The Thane (rural) police claim to have launched a crackdown against the mafia, however, only small-time dealers and vendors are landing in their net as major players have managed to evade the dragnet.
The Navghar police apprehended a dealer who was found to be in possession of banned tobacco products in Bhayandar. Acting on a tip-off, a police team raided a shop located on the BP Cross Road and seized guthka and other tobacco-laced products worth more than Rs 69,000 on Monday. A person identified as Subhash Tiwari (60) was taken into custody.
A similar raid was conducted on Tuesday in which consignment worth thousands of rupees were seized by the police team from a shop in the Navghar area of Bhayandar (east). Apart from slapping cases under the relevant sections of the IPC and regulations of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, the accused trader has been also charged for violating the Disaster Management Rules and the Epidemic Act.
Notably, gutkha sellers are openly selling the banned products at a higher price. Wearing a mask, not to spit on roads and maintaining physical distance in public and at workplaces are some of the norms which need to be followed religiously in order to minimize and contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus. However, the availability of guthka is bound to encourage spitting in public places, consequently, defeating the entire purpose of preventive measures put in place by the district administration.