Palghar Police on Wednesday arrested four Bhayandar residents including the brother of former BJP MLA’s close aide for smuggling gutkha worth Rs 4.56 lakh from Gujarat. A car Hyundai i20 was also seized along with the gutkha.
Four people, who were smuggling gutkha, or chewing tobacco, comprising betel and palm nuts, worth Rs 4.56 lakh from Gujarat, were arrested by the Waliv Police Station authorities on Wednesday evening.
According to the Waliv police, they received a tip-off about the racket and laid a trap on Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway near the flyover at Chinchoti village, Vasai.
Vilas Chougale, a senior police inspector from Waliv Police Station, said, “We acted based on a tip-off and organised a trap for the car, which was carrying the contraband from Gujarat, near Flyover at Chinchoti Village in Vasai (East). We unearthed the banned substance from the Hyundai i20 car with registration number MH-12-LJ-128 and all four accused were arrested.”
Only three passengers are allowed in the car, in Unlock 1.0. How they reached Vapi and coming back is the question. However, the car was stickered with ‘on essential service’. The banned gutkha, worth Rs 4, 55,960 was hidden in the car,” said Mr Chougale.
“Inquiries indicate that they were supplying the contraband to retailers who were selling it despite the lockdown. We suspect they were using their network in the industry to procure and sell the contraband,” the police officer said.
The accused have been identified as Sandesh Vasant Tharthare, Sameer Prataprai Mehta, Sainath Kishor Vajpayee and Nityanand Ram Chaurasia. All are resident of Bhayandar (East).
The police also seized a car which is registered on Sainath Kishor Vajpayee name.
Arrested under sections
The accused have been booked under Sections 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant), 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 270 (Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) 273 (sale of noxious substance), 328 (Causing hurt by means of poison, etc., with intent to commit an offence), 34 (several people are involved with a common criminal intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). They were also booked in under Sections – 26 (2), 4, 30 (2) (A) of Food Safety Standards Act, the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, along with the Disaster Management Act’s rule 51(B).
According to the sources, “One of the accused Sandesh Tharthare is a brother of Sanjay Tharthare, a close aide of former BJP MLA from Mira Bhayandar Narendra Mehta and co-accused in the rape case. Significantly, the rape case was filed by the BJP’s Dalit corporator in February. Ironically, the rape case was filed just after the mayoral election concluded.”
Mehta and Tharthare are booked under Sections 376(2)(n)(rape), 496 (illegal marriage), 417 (cheating), 323, 504, 506 of the IPC and Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989. However, the Bombay High Court has given relief to both the accused and directed the Thane Crime Branch not to take any forceful action against them. Unless or until they are cooperating in the investigation. However, the case has been transferred to DCP of Thane Crime Branch after the victim received a death threat.
Coincidentally, Sameer Mehta is also an activist of BJP and strong supporter of Narendra Mehta.