‘Small quantities of gutkha being smuggled into city from other states’

In the wake of recent raids by the police and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in which gutkha seizures were made, it has emerged that gutkha is being smuggled into the state in small consignments and is being directly delivered to shops.

Since last year, gutkha is banned in 17 states and two union territories. The ban has been in effect in the state since July last year and neighbouring states of Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Goa and Madhya Pradesh. However, the ban is not yet operational in Karnataka.

FDA joint commissioner Shashikant Kekare said, "Smugglers have resorted to a new modus operandi. Gutkha is being smuggled into the state in small consignments. They are avoiding stashing it in large quantities. Most of the times, it is being directly sent to shops."

FDA sources said in all the recent raids, the seized gutkha was smuggled from Uttar Pradesh or Karnataka. "Trains as well as cars are being used to smuggle small quantities of gutkha," said an FDA official. Pune railway police have made gutkha seizures in the recent past.

Senior inspector Bhanupratap Barge of social security cell said, "When police get tip-offs, raids are carried out." Gutkha smugglers had set up a network of small-time carriers, police said.

Kekare said, "In the recent past, we have conducted raids on houses, cars, passenger vehicles and small shops." As per official figures, the FDA has made seizures of gutkha worth over Rs 15 crore, including Rs 3 crore worth of consignments from Pune region.

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