Liquor smugglers disguised as Hindu devotees jailed

December 15th, 2008 - 2:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Salem (Tamil Nadu), Dec 15 (IANS) Three men were Monday sent to prison by a court in Salem town of Tamil Nadu for smuggling liquor from Puducherry while posing as devotees of Hindu lord Ayyappa on pilgrimage, police said.”We intercepted the vehicle appearing to be bound for lord Ayyappa’s hill shrine in Kerala with devotees when it suddenly picked up speed. We stopped the vehicle on suspicion and found 950 bottles of liquor hidden inside,” Sub-Inspector R. Anbarasan said.

K. Ranganathan, 27, Prakash, 37, and S. Kumar, 24, were arrested Sunday night. They admitted to transporting the liquor bottles from Puducherry in the van carrying pilgrims since the devotees abstain from consuming alcohol and would not have roused suspicion.

While liquor is freely available in Tamil Nadu, it is cheaper in Puducherry due to lesser taxes.

The annual pilgrimage to the hill shrine of lord Ayyappa in Sabarimala in Kerala began last month and will continue till the third week of January.

The pilgrimage is preceded by an intense 41-day penance during which the devotee walks barefeet, wears a black dhoti (garment to cover lower half of the body) and follows a strict vegetarian diet.

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