Sales of pan masala unabated; widespread arrests, seizure
Tobacco products and pan masala were banned in the state on May 24, 2012. A blanket ban was imposed on gutka, pan masala and their variants under the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulation, 2011. But despite the ban order and the police officers’ assurance of timely action, the sales of the banned materials have been continuing unabated even in the state capital.
On Tuesday alone, three men were arrested in the city limits for selling pan masala. And in another incident, 50 sacks of pan masala and tobacco products were seized from a godown at Kothuwal street in Chalai. The products, priced at over Rs 2 lakh, were seized from a godown owned by one Radhakrishnan. Police sources said that the raid was carried out on the basis of a special directive from City Police Commissioner P Vijayan.
“We received an order from the Commissioner to raid the place and on checking, found the sacks filled with the banned stuff. The owner of the godown, Radhakrishnan, was involved in wholesale business of pan masala prior to the ban. The pan masala and tobacco products were brought from a wholesale distributor in Alappuzha six months ago,” said Fort Circle Inspector S Y Suresh. He added that raids would continue in the coming days.
The police said the materials were stored in the place for being distributed to retail dealers.
Meanwhile, three men were arrested on Tuesday for selling the banned stuff. Poonthura police picked up two men - Muhammed Nooral, a Bihar native, from near Puthukkad auditorium and Baby of Muttathara from Vaduvam. Several packets of pan masala and tobacco products were seized from them. The third arrest was effected by the Peroorkada police. Shamsudeen, 55, of Kudappanakkunnu, who was engaged in pan masala sales, was picked from his petty shop in Masjid Lane near Peroorkada Junction.