Hyderabad: In a bid to expose the alleged
nexus involving liquor syndicates, politicians and excise
officials, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has intensified
its operation and is conducting searches in various districts
of Andhra Pradesh.
After conducting searches in some districts of Telangana
and Rayalaseema, the ACB officials have now focused on the
coastal Andhra region.
The liquor syndicates issue has been rocking the state
with the ACB bringing to light the alleged involvement of
excise officials, politicians and liquor traders across the
state. Agency`s investigations have so far revealed that some
legislators and leaders had allegedly received annual bribes
from the liquor syndicates, ACB sources said.
After a series of raids in Khammam, Adilabad, Warangal,
Rangareddy, Kurnool and Hyderabad districts since January this
year, the ACB officials recently carried searches in
Vizianagaram district, from where the APCC chief and
Transport Minister Botsa Satyanarayana hails.
Satyanarayana has already gone on record saying his
relatives and family members might have been in the liquor
business, but he personally has no links with the syndicates.
During the searches conducted at different places in
Vizianagaram district on March 27, apart from corruption,
several "ingredients of organised crime" were found in the
liquor business, a top ACB official said.
A case pertaining to the fraud committed in the auction
of wine shops during 2010 was registered in Vizianagaram
district, Director General of ACB D Boobathi Babu said.
After going through the seized documents, it was found
that the wine shops were allotted in the name of 33 persons,
who were either working as employees or casual labourers in
the same shop, he added.
Of the 202 wine shop license holders in the district, 103
persons possess white ration cards, three persons have cards
issued under Antyodaya scheme and while nine others had
temporary ration cards. These ration cards were generally
issued to those families who are under Below Poverty Line
(BPL), the officer said.
"How can a person whose social status is under BPL could
make payment of lakhs of rupees for a wine shop?" an ACB
official probing the liquor syndicate case asked.
After launching a drive to expose the alleged nexus
between liquor syndicates and excise officials, the agency has
registered 26 criminal cases since January this year and the
crackdown is still in progress.
During the course of investigation, the agency has
arrested 13 officials of the Excise as well as the police
department on charges of collecting bribes from the liquor
syndicates to overlook the violation of the provisions of A P
Excise Act. A liquor trader Nunna Venkat Ramana of Khammam
district, who led a liquor syndicate in Khammam and Warangal
districts, was also held.
Out of all the arrested officials, eight personnel of
the Excise Department as well as the police, including the
officers on special duty (OSD) Ram Prasad and Uma Maheswar Rao
from Kothagudem and Adilabad respectively, Kazipet circle
Inspector Vijaya Sarathi and others were released on bail by
the ACB court here on March 25.
More arrests are likely to be made in the coming few
days in connection with the liquor scam, ACB sources said.