HYDERABAD: Smuggling foreign cigarettes seems to be on the rise in Telangana. The law enforcement agencies, including the directorate of revenue intelligence, have so far busted three rackets in the city.
All the smuggling rackets networked from the city to foreign countries were busted in the last five months. The police has also intensified crackdown on gutka and tobacco products since August in Greater Hyderabad.
DRI sleuths carried out two raids in December in the city and seized foreign cigarettes worth Rs. 6.98 crore. The Hyderabad commissioner’s task force in August seized foreign cigarettes worth Rs 19 lakh at Hyderabad railway station.
The police said that there is a rise in the sale of foreign cigarettes at pan shops.
“Almost every other pan shop is selling the smuggled cigarettes and stock the packs in small number. We are gathering information about the main dealers who are sourcing them from Myanmar and Bangladesh,” said a task force inspector.
The markets at Osman-gunj, Begumbazaar and Monda Market are the wholesale hubs of illegal foreign cigarettes. The cigarettes are smuggled into the country through air and sea routes. Thro-ugh the sea route they reach Gujarat and AP, by air, they reach Hyder-abad via Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
Indonesian cigarette brands like Djarum Black and Gudang Garam are smuggled in by non-declaration and concealment. They do not carry warnings or have only minimal cautionary messages unlike that stipulated under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Pac-kaging and Labelling) Rules, 2006. Apart from evasion of customs duty, smuggling of cigarettes poses a threat to the anti-tobacco initiative taken up by both the Centre and state governments.