Referring to the Samjhauta Express railway link and the Indo-Pakistan bus service as couriers for sending drugs into Punjab from Pakistan, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday wrote to union home minister Rajnath Singh for directing the Border Security Force (BSF) to take more effective measures to check the trans-border drugs ﬂow, which transits through Punjab before reaching the international and national markets.
Badal said the Samjhauta Express had been especially vulnerable to novel methods adopted by Pakistani smugglers by shaping the narcotic contrabands as ropes and using these to tie the wagons in order to avoid detection. “Use of passengers as drug couriers and their baggage for heroin consignments has also come to notice,” Badal said.
In the letter, Badal pleaded that the hands of the state government must be strengthened in its ongoing war against drugs, apprising Rajnath that a major component of drugs transiting through Punjab was the trans-border consignments pushed from across the Indo-Pak border in the Punjab sector. Badal said that during terrorism days in the 1980s, the border had been fenced but there were some gaps in the fencing.
The chief minister said the interrogation of arrested smugglers and other inputs had revealed strong connections between the trans-border smugglers on the Indian and Pakistani sides.
The chief minister said that in such a scenario, drug enforcement became a multi-agency effort with a prominent role of the union government as the Border Security Force (BSF) was responsible for guarding the international border and the customs department was responsible for enforcement, prevention and anti-smuggling work. He said the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) had clearly defined preventive anti-smuggling roles.
Badal urged Rajnath to increase the vigil on the 553-km international border along Punjab. He informed the union minister that the drug trafﬁcking in the state had three elements -- smuggling of heroin from across the international border, smuggling of opium, poppy-husk, charas and ganja from across the inter-state borders, and misuse of prescription drugs like tablets, syrups and injections in the state.
Badal said the heroin was mainly manufactured in factories located in Pakistan and Afghanistan using opium cultivated in Afghanistan.
The chief minister said opium was also cultivated in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and smuggled across the inter-state borders of Punjab with Haryana and Rajasthan, poppy husk was smuggled across the inter-state borders of Rajasthan and Haryana, while charas was mainly smuggled from Himachal Pradesh.
He said the state government had adopted a no-tolerance policy on drugs and a proactive approach on drug de-addiction and rehabilitation process. He said the state police had launched a sustained campaign against heroin smuggled from across the international border; poppy husk, opium and other drugs smuggled from across inter-state borders; and have also launched a major crackdown on street drug peddling.
The chief minister said the state police had conducted a systematic exercise to understand the end-to-end network of drug trafﬁcking from Afghanistan to Pakistan to Punjab to outside the state and further, as also distribution within the state. There has been an exponential increase in the seizures — heroin seizures have gone up ﬁvefold -- from 101 kg in 2011 to 520 kg in 2014 (up to November 17). The seizures of poppy husk have increased more than three times -- from 758 quintals in 2011 to 2,366 quintals in 2013.
The state police have conducted raids and effected seizures from outside the state as well. Pharmaceutical units in Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Maharashtra have been raided and searched while the accused have been arrested from the states of Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chandigarh. None of the pharmaceutical units located in Punjab have diverted precursor chemicals for manufacture of synthetic drugs.