Ahmedabad: No matter whichever government is in power in Gujarat, it has always had an indifferent stance when it comes to liquor prohibition in the state. There are three ways one could smuggle alcohol into the state, from the Rajasthan border, through Banaskantha-Sabarkantha highway, through Panchmahals from Madhya Pradesh and through Valsad from Daman. A few years ago, when IPS A.K. Singh took charge as the IG of Surat Range, he took a decision that no alcohol smuggling must take place in Gujarat from Daman.

His order was implemented immediately, but despite the strict checking on highways and seizure of numerous alcohol laden trucks, the flow of alcohol in the state was rampant. The Central Excise Department and Alcohol Factories/Breweries were complicit in rampant liquor smuggling in Gujarat. Singh was informed by his subordinates that all the alcohol seized by them belonged to one single brand factory, Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher.

Singh charged the excise officer of Daman and Kingfisher’s owner Vijay Mallya in the liquor prohibition and smuggling case after his officials had seized liquor belonging to Mallaya’s Daman brewery. The BJP government in Gujarat were taken by surprise with this move. Those BJP leaders who used to criticise Vijay Mallaya in public were now rushing to save him from the law and thus this case was then shifted to CID Crime from Surat Range. Similarly, Shamsher Singh who took charge of the Surat Range after Singh took strict steps to check liquor smuggling. He reached the liquor breweries in Daman and warned the owners that they will be charged too if their brand of alcohol is found being smuggled in the state.

The politicians, who had their business interests in these breweries located in Daman, were seeing Shamsher Singh as a thorn in the flesh. To add to their worries, Nirlipt Rai, the then Surat (Rural) Superintendent of Police too began taking actions to stop the flow of smuggled alcohol in South Gujarat. As a result, both officers were transferred from their posts so that the politicians’ businesses weren’t hurt.

They were replaced IPS GS Malik, who is known for his proximity to political leaders. He didn’t follow his predecessors’ footsteps in curbing alcohol smuggling in Gujarat, probably he was wishing for an out of state deputation in the force and didn’t want to upset his higher-ups.

Currently, the Surat Range IG has been replaced by Rajkumar Pandian, who was known for his close relations to DG Vanzara. He had paid a heavy price for the blind faith he had placed in Vanzara. He has joined the force again after spending a long time behind the bars for his alleged involvement in the fake encounter case and has decided to steer clear from all possible controversies.

Before being given charge of the Surat Range, he was at Junagadh, which is now handed over to IGP Subhash Trivedi. Trivedi is known for his honesty and his stubbornness when it comes to law and order. He is not someone who bows before any political leader, but despite this, the government has decided to give him the charge of a whole Range.

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