Punjab is set to undergo the Panchayat elections on December 30. With the day coming close, demand for liquor has increased in the rural areas as prospective candidates have already started wooing the voters. Still, it failed to bring a smile on the faces of liquor contractors particularly in Malwa region as the smuggling of these bottles from the neighboring state Haryana has also equally increased. It is known to all that liquor in Punjab is much expensive than Haryana, which encourages the smuggling through different routes connecting the two states. Bathinda police on Thursday claimed to have confiscated a total of 570 cartons, means 6,840 bottles of liquor, in two separate instances. Having no fear of law enforces, one Hardev Singh was transporting 170 cartons of liquor smuggled from Haryana. Receiving the tip-off, Bathinda police intercepted the tractor-trolley near village Pathrala and found it loaded with the smuggled liquor. In another incident, CIA staff of Bathinda police arrested Jangir Singh, who was driving a truck loaded with 400 cartons of the liquor bearing Haryana stickers. Speaking to media persons, the cops involved in operation informed that the liquor was meant for use in elections. “But following the directions of the senior officials, we ably foiled their plan,” they proudly added. Asked if the number of smuggling increased during the poll season, a cop involved in the investigation process, sounded affirmative. Notably, Fazilka, Muktsar, Bathinda, Barnala, Sangrur, Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, and Mohali districts share the boundaries with Haryana at different points. And the states being failed to completely seal the borders, the smugglers have turned hyperactive these days. “Squads consisting of excise, police and civic officials have been constituted to stop distribution of liquor during the panchayat polls,” said a senior police official.Though liquor shops are supposed to be sealed in areas going to the polls on the day of polling, officials involved in the operation admitted that it was not possible for them to keep a complete tab on liquor distribution in such a minute manner because of manpower constraints. On the other hand, enthusiasm for polls among the masses can be well observed with a fact that as many as 1,570 people in Bathinda district only have filed the nomination papers for being elected as Sarpanch, of whom 442 are females and over 5,200 persons have filed their nominations for getting elected as Panchayat members.
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