ILLICIT cigarette smuggling is a formidable challenge before the Nation
New Delhi/ Guwahati,
FICCI’s Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy, (CASCADE), a dedicated platform for generating awareness on the adverse impact of smuggling and illicit trading, congratulated the Director General of Assam Rifles and the officers for their valuable contribution in anti-smuggling work. In a commendable effort, the officers of Assam Rifles in the last two months seized smuggled cigarettes worth around Rs. 14 crore along with other illicit items such as drugs, betel nuts etc. Various battalions of the forces intercepted smugglers transporting the illicit consignments using bikes, cars and trucks while hiding them inside rice sacks, jungle tracks, vegetation and others.
Lauding the brave officers of Assam Rifles, Mr. Anil Rajput, Chairman of FICCI CASCADE said, “Illicit cigarette smuggling is a formidable challenge before our nation that has been draining our government exchequer by creating opportunities from tax arbitrage. It also threatens local industries and their capacity to create livelihoods. Assam Rifles’ proactive vigilance in intercepting the movement of smuggled goods is a definitive step towards putting fear in the hearts of those who deal in such trading. Their commendable effort sets forth an example to be keenly studied and followed by other enforcement agencies of the country.”
FICCI CASCADE has also requested Secretary, Home, Govt. of India for appropriate intervention to sensitize other paramilitary forces on the gravity of the issue and amplify the need for a greater focus on combating smuggling and smuggling-related crimes at the borders.
Experts believe that the recent increase in smuggling in the North East could be due to the economic distress insinuated by COVID-19. Loss of jobs and lack of income due to recurrent lockdowns have left citizens without a means of livelihood. Reports suggest that smugglers and insurgents are using people from the local tribal areas to transport smuggled goods by taking advantage of their financial vulnerability caused due to COVID-19.
In order to create large-scale awareness of this menace, FICCI CASCADE has been conducting interactions with government and enforcement agencies across several states in India on the ways to mitigate this challenge. It also appeals to the government to declare smuggling as a national threat that should be addressed with stricter vigilance and reforms.