BENGALURU: The Excise Department conducted an average of 45 raids a day on illicit liquor units across the state since July 2020, making it one of the busiest seasons for the department. Since the officials face threats by those being raided, the department is planning to train its staff in using firearms, and also procure more guns and vehicles to make raids more effective. The department aims to meet its revenue target of Rs 25,000 crore this year, which will largely be helped by the number of successful raids conducted.
But during the financial year 2020-21, there was no liquor sale till April because of the lockdown and raids started only in July. Data available with The New Indian Express shows that in the last nine months, 13,191 raids have been conducted, including those carried out jointly with other departments. In all, 182 people were arrested, thousands of litres of liquor seized and destroyed and 110 vehicles seized.
Department sources said that they exceeded the last year’s target by Rs 431 crore, and this year, they are aiming at Rs 25,000 crore. “For this, we need to keep an eye on illicit liquor units that are avoiding paying taxes to the government. We will definitely conduct more raids than last year,’’ they added. But at many places, department officials, who would not have carried guns, have returned without conducting raids after being threatened by the staff of illegal units. The department now has some old guns that are not in working condition. “This is why criminals are not scared of department officials,” the sources added.
Excise Minister K Gopaliah told The New Indian Express there have been many instances of department officials being attacked during raids. “We have decided to ask the police department to provide arms training to our officers. I will discuss this with Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai,” he said. Guns will be given to officials who work under deputy commissioners in each district. The department is also procuring 77 jeeps and 300 motorbikes for inspectors and other officials.