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Ramakanta Biswas

Bhubaneswar: Unperturbed by the lockdown restrictions clamped to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, a bookseller in Odisha’s Nayagarh district was found blatantly selling liquor in his shop. This has come to the fore when a formal decision on resumption of liquor sale is yet to be taken by the State government.

The illegal act was exposed in a sting operation carried out by OTV. No sooner than the report was aired, police swung into action and detained the agent Bubu Sahu, who happens to be the owner of Gyan Mandir book store in Itamati area.

While many shops have kept their shutters down in view of the COVID-19 lockdown, the government has allowed certain essential shops including groceries, medicine and book stores to open to cater to the needs of people. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Sahu reportedly started selling liquor illegally from his book store as liquor shops have not been opened in State till now.

In the video aired by OTV, Sahu was seen dealing with customers hitting his shop to buy liquor. He was seen charging Rs 200 for a bottle of beer. A few moments later, he was caught on cam talking with a customer over the phone and confirming the availability of plenty of stock.

Ironically, the illegal activity was going on just 50 metres away from the local police station.
After picking up Sahu, Itamati police started interrogating him to find out the source of procurement of liquor amid strict lockdown restrictions.

https://youtu.be/pTd3yHijp70

This is not an isolated incident of liquor sale in the State during the coronavirus lockdown. Illegal liquor trade is also rampantly going on in the heart of the Capital city Bhubaneswar right under the nose of the police. Many persons have been arrested by the Commissionerate Police following the seizure of a large quantity of liquor from their possession.

Meanwhile, State excise department informed that no formal decision has been taken so far to reopen liquor shops in Odisha even though other States have resumed liquor sale. Any decision regarding that will be taken after reviewing the situation in the State and outside.

Asked about instances of illegal sale of liquor during the lockdown period, Khurda excise superintendent Prasanna Kumar Acharya said, “Frequent raids are being conducted to curb the illegal sale of liquor. Recently, one person was caught selling country liquor and cash and a costly car were seized from him. Similarly, a joint raid was conducted in Khurda following a tip-off about foreign liquor trade.”

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