Unfazed by the recent crackdown initiated by the Thane (rural) police, the notorious gutka mafia has continued with their illegal activities in the twin-city amid the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday, a patrolling unit from the Uttan Coastal police station under the supervision of Assistant Police Inspector Satish Nikam intercepted a Chevrolet Enjoy SUV near the Dongri check post and seized two large gunny bags filled with gutkha sachets and scented tobacco of various brands worth thousands of rupees.
The two occupants, including the driver, identified as Prakash Madhukar Lad (20) and Shyamlal Babulal Pardeshi (51) were taken into custody and booked under the relevant sections of the IPC, Food Safety and Standards Act, Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution Act) -- COPTA and also under the provisions of the stringent Maharashtra COVID-19 regulations.
“We have intimated FDA officials as investigations are also underway to ascertain the origin and destination of the banned consignment,” said Nikam.
The racket of smuggling of banned products into Maharashtra from neighbouring states continues unabated, reportedly due to the alleged involvement of a strong syndicate of the notorious gutka mafia which operates a well-oiled distribution network on the outskirts of the twin-city. It has been alleged that even as small time peddlers land in police custody, the source of the consignments mostly remain a mystery.
Despite a blanket ban, gutka and tobacco products are openly available at every nook and cranny of the twin-city.