No claimant of the 6 million counterfeit cigarettes seized a few days ago near Lower Topa has surfaced so far, according to an official of the Inland Revenue Department in Rawalpindi.
Two truckloads carrying six million counterfeit cigarettes were seized last week from the Murree Expressway. Shujaat Ali Khan, Inland Revenue Audit Officer at FBR’s Regional Tax Office in Rawalpindi, said that no one has contacted them so far to claimed the seized cigarettes.
Khan was one of the team members who intercepted two trucks carrying 300 packarites of counterfeited brand ‘Classic’ and 300 packarites of counterfeited brand ‘Kissan’. The officials at that time had recorded statements of the truck drivers who had claimed that the cigarettes had been loaded from Muzaffarabad and were destined to a wholesale market in Rawalpindi.
Khyber Tobacco Company Legal Advisor Abdur Rauf had alleged at that time that the counterfeit cigarettes were manufactured in Wayword tobacco factory located in Muzaffarabad.
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Meanwhile, an official of the Inland Revenue Department Muzaffarabad has concluded in his inquiry report that the counterfeit cigarettes do belong to the Wayward Tobacco Company.
In his inquiry report, Muhammad Khalid, Assistant Commissioner Inland Revenue (Indirect Taxes) in Muzaffarabad, said that he personally probed the matter from various goods forwarding agencies in Muzaffarabad city but no record or information regarding the booking or loading of the said material was found. He said that he joined his duties at the business premises of M/S Wayward Tobacco Company in Muzaffarabad on March 29 and since then, round-the-clock monitoring of the manufacturing unit was being carried out.
He said that no inward/outward movement of vehicles loaded with any kind of raw material or finished goods has been observed at the manufacturing unit. He also submitted that during surveillance of Special Excise Squad Muzaffarabad, no information regarding movement of cigarettes had been received.
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Last week, dozens of youths had also held a protest demonstration outside the National Press Club in the federal capital against makers of counterfeit cigarettes and demanded that the government take action against elements who are challenging the writ of the state.
Addressing a press conference, the youths from Rowani village of Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, had alleged that the cigarette factory Wayward was involved in making counterfeit cigarettes.