KOCHI: With Onam just two weeks away, enforcement agencies are on their toes to prevent the flow of narcotics and liquor to Kochi from other states. This year, the agencies have opted to start enforcement activities early anticipating increased flow of the contraband from other states owing to uncertainty regarding lockdown.
Ernakulam ACP K Lalji said the police have started the special drive for Onam season. A team of 60 policemen has been formed. Besides, two police officials in each police station have been deployed exclusively for Onam-related surveillance.
“Goods trucks from other states are being monitored as there are possibilities of them being used to smuggle narcotics and liquor from other states. We are also inspecting cars that are registered in other states and were found roaming in the city in a suspicious manner. Surveillance at railway stations has been
enhanced. Shopping centres and markets where crowds gather for Onam purchases are also being watched,” he said.
Last week, the police had intercepted a truck coming from Tamil Nadu at Paliakkara in Thrissur and seized 150kg of ganja that was being transported to Kochi. Every year, seizure of narcotics rises during festive season. The Railway Protection Force (RPF) is already on alert following multiple seizures of liquor bottles in bulk from passengers who came from other states. So far, over 100 liquor bottles have been seized by RPF from various railway stations in Kochi.
“We formed a special squad that made multiple seizures in the past two weeks. The liquor bottles were brought from Goa, Puducherry and Mahe to be stocked and sold during Onam season at a higher price. We have also enhanced intelligence gathering to intercept people arriving with narcotic products, especially
ganja,” said an RPF official.
With uncertainty over the sale of liquor following the Covid outbreak and lockdown, excise officials are also keeping their eyes peeled for illegal brewing of arrack. They too have formed special units for carrying out inspections during Onam.
While excise officials conduct a special drive to prevent the flow of illicit liquor and narcotics every Onam, they have started two weeks early this year.
“Sale of liquor in the black market for extremely high prices is common now. Several people have stocked liquor anticipating another lockdown. Though liquor shops were closed for the past one week in Kochi, its black marketeering was active,” said an excise officer.
The excise department has deployed additional units on highways to check vehicles coming from other states. Information is also being collected with the help of the public to prevent illegal brewing of arrack.
“Illegal brewing of arrack usually takes places in rural areas of the district. However, during the lockdown, we came across several instances of this being done in urban areas. We are keeping a watch for the illegal activity in Kochi city,” the official said.