Drives notwithstanding, illegal transportation of banned tobacco substances persists

Siruganur Police on Monday banned tobacco substances seized from Tiruchi district.

Siruganur Police on Monday banned tobacco substances seized from Tiruchi district.

Illegal transport of banned tobacco substances to Tiruchi and its surrounding districts for unauthorized sale continues, if periodic seizures by police and Food Safety Department officials are any indication.

The confiscation of banned tobacco substances weighing a little over 400 kg in Thachankurichi village near Tiruchi on Monday is the latest case of seizure by the police in the Tiruchi Range, which covers five districts this year. Apart from confiscating the banned substances, a police team also seized a car allegedly used by the accused, M. Maniraj, 33, Thachankurichi, for illegal transportation and delivery. The accused was arrested and a case was filed against him by the Siruganur police.

In the last eleven months alone (January to November), police personnel have seized 13,516 kg of tobacco substance in the Tiruchi range, Tiruchi, Perambalur, Pudukottai, Ariyalur and Karur districts. Police sources say that 1,407 cases were registered during that period and the number of arrests was 1,492.

The banned substances enter Tiruchi and other districts mostly from Bengaluru and other parts of Karnataka, said police and Food Safety officials here. These substances are banned in Tamil Nadu, but not in neighboring Karnataka or other states where transportation is done in bulk, sources said.

Prohibited substances are transported by road, parcels and even trains. The ways in which substances are illegally introduced into various parts of the State are ingenious. They have also been found to be hidden in secret compartments of freight vehicles used to transport these substances. At one point, the consignment was kept in bags hidden under vegetables in a small freight carrier in Tiruchi. According to the police, arrests are made based on information and while vehicle checks are being carried out.

Railway Protection Force sources say that between January and November this year, more than 1,500 kg of banned tobacco substances have been seized from the Tiruchi Railway Division limits. The substances were seized in trains being transported from other states, sources said, as these products enter Tamil Nadu from Andhra Pradesh and other states.

A senior official of the Food Safety Department said that 11 wholesale dealers of banned substances have been arrested in Tiruchi district this year, three of them under the Goondas Act. It became clear that some involved in the illegal business had even taken to renting out houses on the outskirts of Tiruchi, apparently to supply the products without permission to ship them, the official said.

The officials said the substances were seized from grocery stores and small shops selling to their “regular customers”, adding that huge profits from illegal sales have attracted many to this dark business. The head of the Department of Food Safety said that many young people were also getting used to consuming banned substances.

Deputy Inspector General of Police, Tiruchi Range A. Saravana Sundar said drives against banned tobacco substances were continuing in Tiruchi Range and some of the accused were arrested under the Goondas Act as a deterrent.

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