The Thane (rural) police, led by Assistant Superintendent of Police Atul Kulkarni, nabbed two local pan-stall owners who were found to be in possession of a consignment of gutkha and other banned tobacco-based products worth more than Rs. 69,000 in Bhayandar on Monday afternoon. Acting on a tip-off, the police apprehended the duo identified as Rajesh Udayram Yadav (30) and Buval Patiraj Yadav (32) immediately after they stepped out of the Bhayandar railway station at around 2.35 pm. While a case under the relevant Sections of the Indian Penal Code and regulations of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011, has been registered against the accused duo. The investigating team are trying to ascertain the source and destination of the illegal consignment.
The Food and Drug Authority (FDA) officials and police personnel have been seizing gutkha and scented tobacco products worth lakhs of rupees in frequently conducted raids. However, the racket of smuggling banned products into Maharashtra from neighbouring states continues unabated, reportedly due to the alleged involvement of a strong syndicate of the notorious guthka mafia who operated a well-oiled distribution network on the outskirts of the twin-city. It has been alleged that peddlers land into the cop net even as the source of the consignments mostly remains a mystery.