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Students turn bootleggers for a quick buck during lockdown, trip to the border risky, but pays off they say

With all Tasmac outlets and liquor shops closed in city limits for more than four months, tipplers, especially youngsters and college students, who usually take up part-time jobs for pocket money, have become bootleggers as the demand continues to soar and to keep themselves busy.

Students turn bootleggers for a quick buck during lockdown, trip to the border risky, but pays off they say
Illustration: Saai


Owing to the increased demand, a single day-trip fetches a good income for these students to  pay for their daily food and for room rent. These part-time bootleggers say that they take risks everyday by choosing different routes to cross borders for buying alcohol and deliver it at their customers’ doorsteps.”There are at least three routes like ECR, Tambaram and Kundrathur to cross the border easily. Our men in these routes would inform us about the location of the police patrol team.

Accordingly, we change our routes to buy liquor,” S Senthil Kumar, a second-year college student from Pallavaram said. Senthil said that since the lockdown has not been lifted for about four months, he and his friends, who were into illegal liquor business since April, have a WhatsApp group for regular customers, which provides the purchase inventory for the day.According to him, each member of his team would sell at least three full bottles of liquor (750 ml each) or four half bottles (370 ml each) per day, which fetches them a profit of about Rs 2,000 depending on the brands after all the expenses, including fuel charges.”On Sundays, as intense lockdown would be put in place,we get Rs 500 extra,” he said adding that they take the pain to travel more than 20 kilometres for deliveries. Similarly, B Kathir, another youngster, who got stuck in Chennai due to the lockdown and would be completing his degree this year,justifies that with no part-time job opportunities, bootlegging is helping him to meet all his expenses. A Balasundaram from Kodambakkam, a regular customer of bootleggers says, “Since I pay through apps, liquor will be dropped at my house and there is no direct contact with delivery persons. The only issue is that we could not get the regular liquor of our choice.” Sources from Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (Tasmac), the monopoly State-run agency in selling liquor, says while the token system was initially introduced to control the rush, it was discontinued after resuming normal sales with a controllable crowd.

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