Nagpur/Yavatmal: The main accused in the illicit trade of banned gutkha, pan masala and other items was arrested from Nagpur Airport in the wee hours of Sunday by the sleuths of Yavatmal Local Crime Branch (LCB) with the help of Nagpur police. Vikram alias Vicky Mangalani, a resident of Amravati, was reportedly planning to abscond to a foreign country, media reports said.
According to reports, he was produced before the court which sent him to police custody remand till December 6, informed LCB chief Pradeep Pardeshi. SP Pavan Bansod received a tip off from a police informer that a huge stock of banned gutkha and other items was stocked in four rented godowns by one Ahefaz Iqbal Memon in Babhulgaon Tehsil of Yavatmal.
Accordingly, a raid was conducted in the godowns and banned gutkha, pan masala and other items worth Rs71 lakh were seized on November 25. Ahefaz was arrested after filing the FIR under relevant sections of the IPC and Anti Drugs Act. The accused complained of health issues and was admitted to the government hospital. On discharge from the hospital, the police interrogated the accused again and he spilled the beans. He said that he was supplied the goods by Vicky of Amravati. The police set up three teams and sent them to Amravati, Pune and Nagpur. The team that left for Nagpur, with the help of Sonegaon police, arrested Vicky from the airport.
The police team brought Vicky to Yavatmal and produced him before the magistrate and obtained his PCR on Sunday evening. It is learnt that Vicky used to supply the banned gutkha and other items to small shopkeepers across Vidarbha.
Notably, the ban on gutkha and pan masala has failed to impact the market. Buying these harmful products is a cakewalk with most pan shops having sizable stock. Earlier, after the ban was first implemented in 2012 and thereafter in 2019, shopkeepers would only sell these to regular customers. But as the intensity of checks have since gone down, people trade in these products openly.