Hyderabad: Despite the police registering several cases and arresting scores of persons, a mafia involved in smuggling of rice dispensed under the Public Distribution System continues to flourish in Bholakpur and surroundings in the city.
Dominated by families dependent on tanneries and iron scrap business, the area is now turning into a hub for PDS rice smuggling syndicates. In the last couple of years, the Hyderabad City Police along with the Civil Supplies Department have seized several tonnes of PDS rice being smuggled by organised local gangs to the neighbouring Karnataka State.
The police caught several gangs and booked more than 30 cases since January 2021 against persons for allegedly being involved in PDS rice smuggling. All of those caught were from Musheerabad and its surroundings.
“Once out of jail, they continue with the business. The lockdown affected them and prior to it, falling prices of animal hide and scrapped metal/ plastic. So they are jobless now,” said Amjed Hussain, former corporator, Bholakpur.
The PDS rice is procured from card holders at a price of Rs 6 to Rs 7 a kilogram and later shifted to godowns by local agents. “Afterwards, the gangs transport it in auto trolleys or lorries to Bidar, Gulbarga and other places in Karnataka where it is sold for Rs 20 to agents there. Later, it is packed in bags and supplied to traders in the local market there,” said an official of the Hyderabad Commissioner’s Task Force.
Huge profits in the trade are attracting many local people and new syndicates have formed. “Now there are skirmishes taking place in the area to dominate the illegal business. More so after the State government announced more rice benefits to families in view of Covid-19,” said the official.
Ghouse Mohiuddin, corporator, Bholakpur, said the government should come forward and announce some rehabilitation packages for educated youngsters here. “If that is done, then youngsters will get some decent earnings and stay away from such illegal activities,” he said.
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