Despite the strenuous efforts of the Himachal Pradesh police to curtail the drug trade, international drug cartels continue to spread their tentacles in the lush green Kullu valley which has become infamous for its cannabis cultivation.
A British woman, Lindsay Sandiford, who has been arrested for allegedly smuggling cocaine worth £1.6 million (Rs 13.9 crore) in Bali in Indonesia, had lived in a village in Kullu.The 55-year-old Briton was arrested in Bali along with three other British nationals and an Indian on May 19. The Indian national who has been arrested in Bali along with Lindsay is named as Nandgopal Akkinemi.
However, the investigating agencies, so far, has not been able to get much details about him and have contacted the Indian police.
The information that percolated to the police in Himachal related to the arrest in Bali reveals that Lindsay, a mother of two children, had moved to India five years ago and settled down in Kullu with one of the villagers in Parvati valley in Kullu.
The village where Lindsay lived is uphill Kasol, famous with foreign visitors.
Kasol village, situated in the remote Parvati valley, is an example of the socio-economic transformation the area has undergone. Today the entire Parvati valley has become the axis of cannabis trade in the country.
Lindsay had told the Investigators that she lived in the mountains in Kullu. Lindsay had described that her house was made half of mud brick and stones.The Hindustan Times has reliably learnt that Lindsay had told the sleuths that her local boyfriend and his father and brother had helped her to construct a house which was situated close to a river.
It is reliably learnt that British investigating agencies and the Indonesian police have sought more details about the women's connection with the Kullu valley.
The foreign sleuths have asked the Indian investigators to provide more details of the woman and her partner.
Though investigations are being kept under wraps but the sleuths are suspecting that Lindsay's partner, now in Kullu, was at the airport in Indonesia when she was arrested.Investigations are now focused on how the woman was running her drug trade in the remote village. The police are now also trying to figure out whether Lindsay is part of the international drug cartel that is active in Kullu valley for the past four decades.
One can imagine the involvement of foreigners in drug trade from the Kullu police data. This year alone, till far the police have arrested 34 persons in connection with the drug trade of which 12 include foreign national including three British nationals.
The hybrid cannabis strains found in Kullu are being smuggled to the countries where there is demand for charas and hash oil.The marijuana seeds found in Kullu have been crossbred with other varieties which have high resin contents. These varieties are being sold under different brands such as Skunk, Red Hair, Turbo Diesel, Early Girl, White Widow, flower power, Morning California, Haze Skunks etc.
The Parvati and Manikaran valleys are hub of charas cultivation. Cheap Nepali labour is available to make things easier as villages such as Malana, Kasol and Tosh compete for higher production. Like Goa, Delhi and Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh has also turned into a major attraction for foreign tourists. However, tourist influx in Himachal owes more to narcotic nexus than to the outstanding geography, people and culture.