Attempts to smuggle contrabands into India from Pakistan have increased manifold over the past few months, and the Border Security Force (BSF) apprehends a further spike in the graph. In an interaction with HT on Thursday, Aditya Mishra, the BSF inspector general for Punjab frontier, cited the bumper production of opium in Afghanistan as a chief reason.
“So far this year, 205 kg of heroin has already been caught during attempts to smuggle it from across the border. More such hostile attempts are expected in the days to come, due to the huge stock of smuggled narcotics from Afghanistan lying in Pakistan,” Mishra said.
He cited a recent report in Pakistan’s daily newspaper Dawn, which said there was production of 6,000 tonnes of opium in Afghanistan last year, and 10% of that was converted into heroin. At least 40% of this 600kg heroin from Afghanistan was pushed into Pakistan for its further smuggling to European countries through India, the report added. According to Mishra, keeping in mind the huge stock, it seems more attempts would be made to push it into India.
Recent hauls from the India-Pakistan Samjhauta Express train and from bags of cement imported via the rail route indicate that smugglers are adopting “every possible route”. Mishra opined, “The huge margin of profits in narcotic smuggling is the key reason for such attempts.”
He said a kilogram of heroin is valued at Rs 1 lakh per kg in Pakistan, which goes up to Rs 10 lakh once it reaches the Indian Punjab. From then on, once the smugglers succeed in sending it to European countries, it becomes Rs 1.5 crore per kg, for further sale at up to Rs 5 crore per kg in the international black market, added Mishra.
WHY PUNJAB BORDER?
Asked why the border adjoining Punjab is seen as a favourite by smugglers, Mishra said it is because of the border in Jammu and Kashmir being guarded heavily. “But strict vigil of the BSF at the Punjab border has forced the smugglers to adopt other routes like Samjhauta Express,” he hastened to add.
He also acknowledged that Punjab has a huge network of peddlers, which is evident in the fact that “90% of the total inmates lodged in the state’s jails are charged under the Narcotic Drugs And Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act only”.
Asked whether there is any possibility of tunnels by smugglers, like the one unearthed in Samba sector in J&K, Mishra said, “On the Punjab frontier, there is no such possibility, as there is a long distance of 1.5km between the fencing on both sides.”
But the IG did not rule out the role of Pakistani intelligence agency ISI in the smuggling of narcotics. “In many of the catches, fake currency and weapons are also recovered. Smuggling of narcotics can thus also be seen as an arrangement of funding terror missions in India by the ISI. I believe the racket of fake Indian currency, too, cannot be run without the help of the ISI.”