Uttarakhand is fast becoming a thriving market for the sale of illegal liquor manufactured both inside and outside the state. An alarming number of people from both Garhwal (1,245) and Kumaon regions (1,026) were arrested for involvement in the large scale racket in 2014 alone.
Sources said the illegal liquor sales rise exponentially during times of festivals and elections. Liquor that is smuggled from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh is sold at comparatively high prices but country-liquor is manufactured in the hills of the Garhwal region as well.
Last year, 45,181 bottles were seized in the Garhwal region and 41,434 from Kumaon. The bottles seized in Garhwal were worth Rs 1.03 crore while seizures from Kumaon were worth Rs 72.72 lakh.
Assistant director general of police (law and order) Ram Singh Meena told TOI, "We are particularly cautious when the New Year or any major festival is approaching. The demand for illegal liquor goes up during these times." He also said additional force is deployed at entry points from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
"The people arrested last year were not just from Uttarakhand. This points to the fact that a large racket was operating in the state," the senior police official added. Police teams are especially vigilant on routes leading to hotels and venues for celebrations. "Udham Singh Nagar, Dehradun, Nainital and Haridwar are the worst-hit areas, so we remain extra vigilant in these districts," said Meena.