Excise authorities closed and sealed 50 liquor shops which had plied trade surreptitiously during the Sri Sambuddha Jayanthi 2550 Vesak week while there was a total ban on liquor sales imposed by the authorities, Commissioner of Excise Parakrama Ekanayake told `The Island yesterday (15).
President Mahinda Rajapakse in response to appeals from Buddhist associations had issued strict orders that the liquor dealers who defied the ban be severely dealt with without fear or favour.
The Excise Department deployed special teams to conduct raids in most parts of the country.
The largest number of liquor shops closed by the authorities was from the Western Province he said.
The Excise Commissioner said the Excise Law was being studied by the officials of the department to ascertain whether provisions exist in the law to have the licenses of the errant liquor shops cancelled. He also said there was provision in the law to fine the errant liquor dealers amounts up to 500,000 rupees. The law was very clear on the fines.
He said his men would leave no stone unturned in their effort to give the full cry to the liquor ban during the holy week.
Meanwhile, the Police Headquarters said all police stations had been given instructions to raid all illicit breweries and dealers who would try to make the most of the ban.
The police seek cooperation of the public to make a success of the on-going raids. Any information about illicit liquor dens, they said, would be kept confidential.