Thiruvananthapuram: There has been little impact on the sale of gutkha and pan masala even after the ban imposed by the State Government and those who need the items get them at their will. Though the police had started the drive against the sales of the intoxicants, the scenario remains more or less the same before the ban came to effect, two months ago. The ban has not made much impact on the supply. We have not felt a shortage, said a shop owner at Thirumala on condition of anonymity.
The scene is not much different in other places of the district and the sales of the banned intoxicants are being carried out in a more enthusiastic manner in the rural areas. There is no shortage of pan masala or gutkha. Especially in the rural areas, the availability of the intoxicants is almost the same as it was before the ban. The only difference is that the sales are not open now. Those who sell it and those who buy it have, by now, become used to making the deal behind the curtains, said a driver hailing from Valiyavila who did not wish to be named.
At least a section of the police personnel also admit that the ban has had no effect. Whatever the police have done, the sales of the deadly items cannot be stopped at once. It is almost like the smoking in public places continuing even after its ban. The evil cannot be eradicated fully, said a civil police officer attached to one of the city police stations.
However, the police have been continuing their drive after the ban came into effect. In June, there were 41 cases; and in July, 12 cases registered in connection with the sales of gutkha and pan masala in the rural areas of the district, according to the details available from the District Crime Records Bureau.
In the city limits, around 45 cases were registered in this connection during June and July. The drive against the sales of gutkha and pan masala has been carried out in true spirit. We have never slowed down the pace of the drive. We feel that the menace is now almost under control, said A J Thomaskutty, Superintendent of Police, Thiruvananthapuram Rural District.
I think the sales have became nil by now and we have not noticed anyone continuing with the business, said T J Jose, City Police Commissioner. But those who are against the use and sales of the intoxicants are not as much relaxed as the police chiefs as they fear the sales of the items have not been fully checked by the authorities.