Amidst the report that smuggling of betel nuts from Southeast Asian countries into the Northeast continues unabated, police recently seized five truckloads of dried betel nuts (supari) on NH 31 at Baihata Chariali on Guwahati outskirts.
Police arrested the drivers and the helpers of the four seized trucks. The driver and the helper of one truck, however, managed to flee under cover of darkness.
Baihata Chariali police station officer-in-charge Sushil Saikia said acting on specific input, a team of police launched an operation on NH-31 in the area and seized five trucks bearing registration no- UP 21N -7987, RJ 51GA- 0237, HR 46- 6807, UP 21 N- 2735 and AS 01 DC- 0371.
Saikia said the trucks were carrying at a total 1250 bags of betel nut from Dimapur to Nalbari without having valid documents. “The drivers were unable to produce any kind of challan or legal documents regarding the consignment, thus raising suspicions of illegal transportation,” he said.
The truck drivers confessed that they had brought the consignments for Balaji Roadline Transport Agency. So far the owners have that trucks have not come to the police station to claim the seized trucks. The arrested drivers and helpers have been sent to 14-day judicial custody.
Sources said smuggling of betel nuts from Thailand and Mynamar through Mizoram and Barak Valley areas of Assam is rampant. The Assam government has recently ordered a probe to unearth the modus operandi of the smuggling racket.
Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) is also engaged in an investigation into betel nut smuggling across the country, including the Northeast.
Northeast Now earlier reported that the illegal trade in the far-east of India is estimated to be more than Rs 2,500 crore annually. Dried betel nut is one of the main ingredients of all varieties of gutka and paan masala. The pan masala market in India is huge, and is estimated at Rs 25,000 crore, and is growing by about 10 percent every year.