The Sindh police's intelligence unit has cracked down on gutka and mawa sellers across the province, including Karachi, sniffing out the network of manufacturers, suppliers and protectors of the tobacco chews considered top cause for the oral cancer in the province.
Gutka is made of tobacco, betel nut, slaked lime, catechu, and in some cases sweeteners and spices to add flavour and aroma. Mawa is a mixture of thin shavings of betel nut with tobacco flakes and slaked lime. Both the chews damage the membrane of mouth to allow seepage of nicotine in the blood capillaries.
People, though aware of morbid effects of these traditional tobacco products, continue with the addiction, which forced the government to criminalise the manufacture, sale and possession of gutka and mawa. The ban however led to a black market of the highly addictive product.
An earlier confidential report on the gutka dealers and their alleged patronage by police officers had also been compiled. The district with the most officers involved in sale of narcotics and was Central.
According to the report, 45 significant suppliers of gutka and mawa are working allegedly under the patronage of some unscrupulous elements of the police in the Central district. People continue to sell the cancer-causing chew, though banned by the government, at cigarette cabins and kiosks.
The report identified the limits of New Karachi Industrial Area Police Station as having the highest number of locations, that is nine, for wholesale of the highly-addictive tobacco chew in the Central district, four such areas were in Gulbahar, three in Nazimabad, three in Rizvia, four each in n Liaquatabad, Azizabad, Samanabad, Bilal Colony, and two in Sharahe Noor Jahan.
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Apart from this, sales of gutka and mawa have been pinpointed to five places in Sharifabad, four in Liaquatabad Supermarket area, three in Khawaja Ajmer Nagri and five in New Karachi.
According to the report, Korangi district ranked second with 23 major gutka suppliers, while 13 such elements were operating in Kemari district and nine in the West. The report stated that there were six wholesale hubs of the banned chews in the Malir district.
Moreover, as per the document, besides Karachi, gutka and mawa is consumed across the Sindh. In this regard, 103 places in the Hyderabad range, 76 in the Mirpur Khas range, 15 in the Sukkur range and 12 in the Larkana range are hubs of major sale and supply of gutka and mawa.
Karachi's Jackson police in raided a house and arrested four suspects involved in home-based production and supply of gutka and mawa. Police seized 90kgs of betel nuts, 6kgs of prepared gutka from Hameed, Shahid, Akhtar and Imran, said Jackson Police Station SHO Arshad Janjua.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2021.
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