Hyderabad police on Friday, July 3, 2020 busted a foreign cigarettes selling racket. Police apprehended fiver persons and seized cigarettes worth Rs 1.3 crore from their possession.
Police seized 503 cartons, containing 3,55,900 packets of foreign cigarettes worth Rs 1,03,00,000.
The arrested persons have been identified as Vipul Ranka (42), Jagadish Kumar (19), Doongarchand Shrishrimal (65), Pavan Kumar Perthani (42) and M.A Haneef (40). Another person involved in this racket, identified as Ravinder Singh Sarna (58), is absconding.
According to Hyderabad city police commissioner Anjani Kumar, Vipul Ranka runs ‘D. Rajesh Kumar & Co’ at Begum bazaar, that sold Tailoring material and Agarbatti Material. Due to insufficient income, he decided to sell foreign cigarettes. Ranka came into contact with the owner of Sarna Transports, purchased huge quantities of foreign cigarettes from him and sold them at his shop in Begum bazaar. Under the guise of ‘Sarna Transports’, Pavan Kumar and M.A Haneef kept foreign cigarettes in their godown and distributed the material on the instructions of the owner, Ravinder Singh Sarna.
Ranka soon came into contact with local distributors Jagadish Kumar and Doongar Chand. They procure the cigarettes from Sarna Transports and supply to pan shop vendors, petty kirana shop vendors, local marketing agents in around Hyderabad and gain huge profits on the foreign cigarettes.
These Foreign cigarettes are being illegally smuggled from countries like China, Malaysia, Switzerland and South Korea to evade taxes and are being sold in Delhi, Hyderabad and other states at cheaper rates with a heavy margin to the sellers. As compared to Indian brands, consumers also prefer to buy such cigarettes due to its international quality and brand name.
The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) has made it mandatory to have graphic health warnings on 85 percent space of the cigarette packet and the Union government levies heavy taxes on the tobacco products to discourage their sale. But these foreign cigarettes have no health warning on it.
Two days ago, the owner of Sarna Transports purchased a huge quantity of foreign cigarettes from Delhi and brought it to Hyderabad on road. It was kept in their godowns at Goshamahal to be delivered to Vipul Ranka, Jagadish Kumar, Doongar Chand and others.
On Thursday, while the accused persons were transporting the goods, officials apprehended them. The accused persons along with the seized material were handed over to Shahinayathgunj police station for further investigation.