As most liquor vendors have shut their shops after implementing the new excise policy in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, production of illicit liquor has recorded a significant increase, especially in the rural belts, in the past few weeks.

Furthermore, repeated lockdown and COVID restrictions have boosted hooch business in the rural areas, where boozers have adopted the traditional method of preparing illicit liquor, primarily produced by the fermentation and distillation process using molasses and 'Lahan'.

Sleuths of Excise Department destroying illicit liquor
social media

On early Friday morning, a police team conducted a raid in the remotest Arnas area of Reasi district and destroyed a stall - illegally installed in the forest area, to produce illicit liquor. One accused namely Kako Ram, allegedly involved in hooch production in this belt, was arrested and a huge quantity of illicit liquor and 'Lahan' was recovered from his house.

Similarly, the sleuths of the J&K's Excise Department conducted series of raids in different parts of the Kathua district to arrest the menace of illicit distillation of liquor. Over 3,000 kilograms of Lahan and working still was destroyed by the sleuths in different areas.

"We have intensified our campaign to check hooch production. Special squads have been constituted to conduct raids after getting any input", Narinder Singh, head of the Eradication Wing of the Excise Department, told International Business Times.

Sleuths of  J&K Excise Department destroying illicit liquor
Sleuths of J&K Excise Department destroying illicit liquorsocial media

Apart from constituting special squads to conduct raids, authorities have also put the onus on Panchayat members to eradicate this menace in their respective areas. Sarpanches of villages- infamous for hooch production, are asked to create awareness among people against this menace.

Liquor vendors' 'strike', lockdown boost hooch production

Although most liquor vendors have already shut their establishments after implementing a new excise policy in J&K, Corona curfew in UT has contributed to the flourishing of hooch production.
Due to the closure of all liquor vends, including wine shops people have now started preparing illicit liquor in an unregulated manner without any check, which may prove dangerous. It is being prepared in small quantities for personal consumption, making it difficult for police and the Excise Department to trace such people.

People are using 'Lahan', a yellow coloured viscose as a raw material for producing illicit liquor and it has to be distilled on a fire. It contains ethyl alcohol. This illicit liquor is not safe to consume as toxic material used in it can prove fatal.

J&K fetches Rs 140 Cr through e-auction of liquor shops

Almost all wine traders of J&K have shut their establishment after the implementation of the new excise policy. Instead of renewing existing licenses of liquor vendors, the J&K government, this time, adopted e-auctions through which has fetched Rs 140 crore for one year as against Rs 10 crore earlier. Existing liquor vendors are demanding that instead of e-auction their licenses should be renewed. After e-auctioning on April 19, most of the existing liquor vendors have closed their shops.