In what could be viewed as an emerging trend in smuggling rice from Chennai, Oriya-speaking women are reportedly being engaged to transport rice illegally to the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh by trains.
The modus operandi came to light during a drive jointly conducted by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP) last fortnight. Five tonnes of rice, suspected to be meant for Public Distribution System (PDS), was seized at Egmore railway station.
According to official sources, the web of rice smuggling starts with packing rice in sack bags, each weighing 50 kilograms. The sacks are being dumped near the Egmore railway station premises in auto rickshaws. Under the guise of travellers, women conversing in Oriya, collect these bags and stock them under the seats of unreserved compartments in trains bound for Kacheguda and Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh, the official sources add.
“The kingpins are using a few Oriya-speaking women from poor background for smuggling, as they can pose as labourers returning to their native places. This gives them cover from the watchful eyes of the security personnel,” an officer said.
“In fact, we were unable to make any arrest, since they disassociate themselves from the rice bags on questioning,” the officer added.
In Andhra Pradesh, the rice is polished and returned to the Chennai market. The (rice) commodity is sold at higher prices, ranging anywhere between `35 and `40 per kilogram in the city. “We have already handed over 2.5 tonnes of rice, which was seized at Egmore railway station by the Food Cell Wing of the State Police last week. The remaining 2.5 tonnes would be handed over to the authorities concerned shortly,” an RPF official said.