Hashish haul puts Dabur under fresh fire in Nepal (Lead)

October 15th, 2008 - 8:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Oct 15 (IANS) Dabur India’s wholly-owned subsidiary here is under fresh fire after the seizure of hashish from an Indian truck laden with its “Real” brand of fruit juice meant for export to India even as the company said it could not be blamed for the actions of transporters.Nepal’s ruling Maoist party, however, has seized upon the incident to begin a campaign against Dabur Nepal. “Dabur Nepal involved in the smuggling of hashish,” the Maoist-affiliated Janadisha daily said Wednesday in a front-paged report.

The state-run Nepal Television channel headed by Maoist Minister for Information and Communications Krishna Bahadur Mahara was the first to report the incident Tuesday night.

The private media has remained silent on the incident.

The government’s official daily, the Dainik Gorkhapatra, Wednesday said the discovery of the contraband stashed inside juice cartons “also puts Dabur Nepal under suspicion, according to police”.

The police made the seizure late Monday night following a tip-off.

A special police task force stopped the truck, bearing the Indian number plate HR 38 S 5325, near Birgunj town on the India-Nepal border. The truck had completed all customs formalities and was heading for New Delhi via Ghaziabad.

Searches reportedly revealed about one-two quintals of hashish hidden among the cartons of juice. The driver, Hari Singh, a resident of Ghaziabad, and the owner Satyapal Singh, were arrested.

According to the statement given by Hari Singh, this is the second time he had attempted to smuggle hashish to India.

Dabur officials in the Indian capital said the company could not be held accountable since it did not own the truck.

“The truck was checked and cleared at Nepal Customs after Dabur products were loaded on the vehicle, and Dabur is in possession of the clearance receipts,” the company said in a statement.

“Once the goods are handed over to the transporter, it is the transporter’s responsibility and Dabur cannot be held responsible for the actions and deeds of the transporter and the driver. We have, however, offered full support and cooperation to the local authorities in their investigation into the incident,” the statement added.

Dabur Nepal is just recovering from a long closure of its factory by workers demanding higher bonus with the Nepal government ignoring its plea to declare the strike illegal.

Maoists have also stopped Nepal’s oldest beauty pageant that is sponsored by Dabur Nepal to promote its Dabur Vatika brand of cosmetics, asking the pageant organisers to look for a different sponsor.

(With inputs from New Delhi bureau)

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