Political Class Vs. Honest Officers Vs. Mafia

20/03/2015 9:16 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
Hindustan Times via Getty Images
NEW DELHI, INDIA - FEBRUARY 5: Heavy crowd outside a Wine and Liquor shop at Laxmi Nagar ahead on Delhi Assembly elections on February 5, 2015 in New Delhi, India. The sale of Liquor is prohibited on day of poll and preceding two days in all General elections. The elections for the 70-member Delhi assembly will be held in a single phase on February 7. The counting of votes will take place on February 10. (Photo by Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The death of DK Ravi, an honest and courageous IAS officer, is a story that is often repeated in India. Officers who have stood up to the establishment based on principles have been a target -- harassed, transferred and a few killed. The worst is suffered by those who take on the real estate/mining/liquor lobbies. In fact, they operate like a mafia. One such case that I personally followed was in my state of Andhra Pradesh. A DIG at the anti-corruption bureau started sniffing out liquor syndicates, across the state. He unearthed a pattern, where people from all political parties were a part of the same syndicate.

Read the details:

1. The state sells licenses for liquor shops. Most such licenses are cornered by politicians, their relatives and are Benami. During ACB raids, it was disclosed that more than half of the 200 licenses in one district of Vizianagaram were with one Congress minister in the name of his relatives, drivers, servants etc. By the rule, one family cannot have more than one license.

2. The liquor licensees, controlled by a handful of politicians, in turn form syndicates. All politicians from all political parties are a part of this racket. Only the benefits were changed from 60:40 to 40:60 depending on who is power. The price, supply etc. are mandated by this illegal syndicate. They can increase or decrease the price at will.

3. As elections are announced, politicians, who control all liquor shops, start free flow of booze. People become workers and supporters -- for the free booze. Some start it for freebies and others to fulfil their needs.

4. Unemployed youth, who fall for the free liquor, become party workers. They become the henchmen, working, threatening, fighting, bullying rivals, all for the bottle. There is a false sense of power.

5. Over the two months of elections, the workers get addicted to a daily dose of liquor. Part time drinkers become addicts, and the quantity of intake also increases dramatically. A new set of consumers get drawn into an abyss.

6. Once the elections are done with, the unwinding starts:

- Free flow of liquor stops. You have to pay now.

- The addicted youth are desperate for their daily dose.

- The liquor syndicate mandates an increase in the price, much beyond the MRP.

- All the liquor shops within the syndicate follow this diktat. It is an unwritten code.

- Thus they recover the cost of liquor served free during the election time.

- The elections ensure increase in number of people consuming liquor.

- There is an increase in the number of consumers.

- There is an increase in per capita consumption.

- There is an increase in cost of liquor per bottle.

7. At the end of every election, Andhra Pradesh would have created a new set of consumers for alcohol, addicted and consuming more, possibly for life.

8. The state has always seen a permanent increase in liquor consumption post the elections.

In my opinion, this is most likely to be the scenario, where the state controls liquor licenses and the private parties stand to gain by increasing consumption.

In a market economy, the private entrepreneur does everything to create new market and demand, right? And the elections are meant to secure the future of this country?

And the man, K Srinivasa Reddy, an officer of the DIG rank in the ACB, who exposed this big scam was promoted and transferred overnight. He was getting too close to the truth. The AP High Court 'requested' him to continue investigations, but the government denied the request. The justification was -- he has been promoted and hence had to be moved out. To keep him away from Hyderabad, where the HC was hearing the case, he was posted in a distant district with no flight connections. The the case has been a burial mode since.

And the liquor lobby continues to thrive, Now under a different government. The share has changed. Now it is 40:60 against the Congress minister.

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