Illegal trade of duty-free Indian liquor in Gulshan, Banani

While searching a private car in the capital's Baridhara area on 2 September, the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) arrested the driver and two passengers, along with 52 bottles of foreign liquor.

Muhammad Sanwar and Riaj Uddin, the two passengers, identified themselves as Indian citizens. DNC officials seized their passports, which documented more than 40 instances of border crossings in the last eight months.

According to the DNC, several cross-border rings are illegally bringing liquor from India and supplying it to clients in Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara, and some other elite neighbourhoods of Dhaka. They are bypassing the duty collection mechanism, forcing the country to lose a significant amount of revenue.

DNC officials specifically claim that some unscrupulous Indian citizens are bringing the liquor from India.

Rashedujjaman, Deputy Director of DNC (Dhaka North), said they have already identified the ring that distributes liquor in the Gulshan and Banani areas after bringing it from India with the help of Indian citizens.

He further said they are trying to arrest a Bangladeshi citizen whom they have marked as the kingpin.

There are some 20 to 25 Indian nationals who bring different types of products, including liquor, from India and hand them over to local rings here.

The duty on importing foreign liquor ranges from 596 to 611 per cent, while the rate is 443 per cent for beer. However, bonded warehouses enjoy the privilege of importing foreign liquor without paying any duty, as the liquors are dedicated to foreign diplomats stationed in Bangladesh.

Earlier, the duty-free liquor was used to sell in some facilities outside the designated ones. The scope shrank after the National Board of Revenue (NBR) imposed strict regulations on the immediate updating of import and sales data in the system.

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DNC officials believe that the reduced scope for outside sales of foreign liquor has led to an increase in the smuggling of liquor from India in luggage.

According to DNC officials, there are some 20 to 25 Indian nationals who regularly commute to Bangladesh by train. They are actually members of the "luggage party" who bring different types of products, including liquor, from India and hand them over to local rings here.

In the last three months, authorities have seized four consignments of foreign liquor and arrested six people involved in the process.