Prashant Dayal, Ahmedabad: The Gujarat government’s attitude towards the implementation of prohibition law in the state is hypocritical, is a fact well known. The Vijay Rupani government had last year announced stringent laws of prohibition in the state to check smuggling and bootlegging of liquor. But the cops have been using the stricter norms against liquor for their own benefits by extorting lakhs of rupees from people who consume liquor.

One such instance in Bardoli district in south Gujarat saw a police sub-inspector (PSI) extorting money from a Gujarati (Non-Residential Indian) NRI family who had come down to their hometown for a vacation and was in possession of liquor in their house. The PSI was later forced to return the extorted money back to the family after intervention by a Gujarat minister and the range inspector general of police (IGP).

Prakash Patel, his wife Falguni Patel and his daughter had come down to Bardoli in August this year from the United States for a vacation. On the afternoon of August 30, Bardoli PSI P. Chaudhury along with his staff had barged into the house of Patel and claimed that they have got a tip-off that there is liquor in the house. The PSI’s men confiscated the mobile phones of the couple and began frantically searching the house as if they were looking for some hiding criminal.

Patel told the cops that they are NRIs and hold valid permits to consume liquor in the state and that they have seven bottles of liquor in the house which they possess legally. The PSI demanded to look at the permit and even took out the liquor bottles from the cupboard and placed it on a table. Patel, who is diabetic, began to feel uneasy due to the stress and his wife requested the cops to call a doctor, but in vain.

PSI Chaudhury demanded Rs 15 lakh for not registering a case of prohibition against them. Patel requested that he be allowed to make some calls to arrange for the money. Upon getting calls from him, Patel’s friends too rushed to his house and after deliberation, convinced the PSI to bring down the amount to Rs 1 lakh for each bottle, a total of 7 lakh rupees. The money was ordered to be paid at Tulsi Hotel in Bardoli and PSI Chaudhury took along with him the liquor bottles and the DVR of the CCTV cameras in the house to ensure no proof of his act exists.

After a few days, Prakash Patel met Bardoli MLA and minister of social justice and empowerment Ishwar Parmar at the Circuit House, apprising him of the happenings. Parmar ordered Range IGP Rajkumar Pandian to look into the matter. The PSI soon got the wind about the complaint made against him to the MLA and he went back to Patel’s house, this time to return the money taken from him. Patel recorded the whole incident in a video, which he submitted to the Range IGP along with a complaint seeking action against PSI Chaudhury. With the hope that he will be summoned any time to record his statement, Prakash Patel postponed his trip back to the US by a fortnight.

The wait got longer and no action was taken against the accused. Tired, Prakash decided to go back to the US when the police got in touch with him and told him that he might have to be present in the court whenever he is summoned, even if he is in the US. The cops told him that he could be relieved of this diktat if he submits an application stating that he doesn’t wish to pursue this matter further, which he did eventually.

On one hand, chief minister Vijay Rupani wants the Gujarati community living abroad to invest in the state, while on the other, the administration doesn’t seem to take any action against the apathy of the NRI Gujaratis who are harassed by the corrupt.

Watch video of the second visit of the PSI at Patel’s house:


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