Hyderabad Launching a state-wide crackdown against the â€œliquor syndicatesâ€ or lobbies of liquor dealers, the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) has arrested a large number of people, including dealers as well as the officials of the excise department.
The arrests in several districts, including Warangal, Nellore and Visakhapatanam, were made a day after the ACB raided 22 places in six districts and seized incriminating evidence and records of huge amounts of bribes paid by the dealers to politicians, government officials, policemen and journalists.
In a press release, the ACB said, â€œa significant amount of money was also paid on recurrent basis to the media â€” print and visualâ€.
The ACB said the money was paid by the syndicates to carry out illegal activities like selling liquor at a price higher than the maximum retail price, opening shops or branches of their shops without licences, selling liquor for which duty had not been paid and keeping outlets open beyond closing time.
Those arrested include an excise inspector and three accountants in Warangal; four employees of the excise department and three liquor dealers in Visakhapatanam; an excise circle inspector, a head constable and a dealer in Srikakulam; and three dealers in Guntur district.
The nexus between the syndicates and the politicians and bureaucrats has already become very embarrassing for the state government.
The illicit business of liquor in the state has caused huge losses to the exchequer, estimated to be in millions of rupees.
Sources said that the latest raids have yielded a lot of information in the form of diaries and accounts with the details of who had paid how much to whom. The presence of the names of journalists in the diaries has become a subject of discussion and speculations.
ACB officials said they will continue their raids and search operations, and many more people will be arrested. The excise department officials have also emerged as the main villain of the piece, as it was their duty to check such illegal activities.
Interestingly the ACB has also unearthed another illegal activity of the excise officials: they were also extending loans at exorbitant interest rates to retail liquor dealers.