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Cigarettes, matches taken away by cops during gutka raids

During city wide raids on shops that sell banned tobacco products, the police have allegedly confiscated lakhs worth cigarettes as well, causing huge losses to vendors.

Cigarettes, matches taken away by cops during gutka raids
Officials during a Gutkha raid at a tea shop in the city


There is no ban on cigarette sales anywhere in the city, except in shops that come under the 500-metre radius of educational institutions. Despite that, the raids conducted left petty vendors and shopkeepers poorer by thousands of rupees.

“The police came here and seized all banned tobacco products, but after that, they took cigarette and beedi packets. They have even taken the matchbox cartons and lighters from the shop,” said a petty shop owner at Egmore, who requested anonymity. Another vendor says that around Rs.5,000 worth cigarettes were taken away from each shop. Raids were carried out in the jurisdiction of all 135 police stations. Store owners from Koyambedu, Mount Road, Vepery, Flower Bazaar, Kilpauk and Chetpet all had similar tales to narrate. 

The raids on petty shops across the city to flush out banned tobacco products came after the DMK brought gutka packets to Assembly to prove that the banned products were still being sold. This followed allegations that several top police officials received huge kickbacks from the gutka mafia and allowed illegal sales in the city. 

As per procedure, police officials are required to provide a seizure memo to the shop owners. These seizure report has to be counter-signed by two witnesses and a copy has to be given to the shop owner. However, shopkeepers claim that no seizure memos were issued to them. 

During a two-day drive against sellers of banned tobacco products, police had booked 610 cases, arrested 421 persons and seized over 12,000 packets of pan masala, but the reports don’t record seizure of cigarettes. 

When contacted, city commissioner of police A K Viswanathan said that there is a chance that police could have seized some banned cigarettes like Black. “I am unaware of the seizure of regular cigarettes during the raid, I will check up with the officials,” he said.

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