‘Gutkha traders have connived with a section of police and administrative officers to run the illegal business. Now they are minting money from this business.’
By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, February 15: After the passage of the Anti-Tobacco Bill in the Assam Legislative Assembly some 20 months back, many tobacco traders, police personnel and administrative officials in the state are found on the wrong side of the law. The law was aimed at curbing the manufacture and selling of all smokeless tobacco in the state.
The situation after the passage of the Bill is quite different from what was aimed at. The very purpose of the Law has been, for all intents and purposes, failed. Now gutkha is sold openly in Guwahati, and too, at prices much higher than ever before. This is not all. The now this rcotic commodity is sold right in front of schools, colleges and other institutions like hospitals.
Talking to this reporter, a pan shop keeper said: “When gutkha wasn’t banned, we got it at reasoble prices. Now we’ve to buy it at much higher rate. We have to sell it at higher prices too.”
According to sources, Fancy Bazar in Guwahati is the hub of black marketing of gutkha. From there, sources said, the commodity is supplied to elsewhere in the state. “The ban has indeed helped the traders engaged in the illegal business of gutkha, because now they sell the commodity at much higher prices,” a section of traders engaged in other business in the Fancy Bazar area said, and added: “Gutkha traders have connived with a section of police and administrative officers to run the illegal business. Now they are minting money from this business.”
Health hazards due to the sale of gutkha in front of schools, colleges and hospitals may lead to more problems among the vulnerable sections like students and sick people. The very purpose of a legislation is served the best if it is executed properly. It is the administration, including that of the police, that can ensure proper execution of a law. Given the open sale of gutkha in the state, one has to think twice if there is at all any administration in the state or not.