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Drug smugglers abuse death

delhi Updated: Jul 15, 2009 01:15 IST
Harish V Nair
Harish V Nair
Hindustan Times
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If the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) is to be believed, India is facing a new kind of incursion.

The international drug mafia is sending terminally ill patients from foreign countries — mostly women — as couriers of deadly drugs.

This startling revelation was recently made by the NCB in the Delhi High Court, hearing a plea of a Nigerian woman and cancer patient Amaka Nuoyim to suspend the trial against her in a drug smuggling case and let her return to her country.

She was granted bail on humanitarian ground on July 6.

Liberal policy

The court noted that smuggling syndicates are making use of a liberal policy where India does not strictly insist on a medical certification from a person who is seeking a visa.

Worse, the conduits are escaping punishment as in most cases courts send them back when they are on the verge of death on humanitarian grounds.

NCB had warned the Centre more than a decade ago but visa rules are yet to be tightened.

According to doctors, Nuoyim has no chance of survival. Arrested in 2007, she was serving time in Tihar jail.

Stiffly opposing the withdrawal of prosecution against her, the counsel representing NCB Satish Aggarwala told the court: “It had come to the notice of the department that drug traffickers were using the services of terminally ill patients to act as transporters to smuggle narcotics.”

NCB said any kind of leniency towards such accused will only set a bad precedent and encourage both international drug syndicates to recruit such persons, and the persons suffering from fatal diseases to take up such lucrative assignments.

... as Court asks Centre to tighten visa norms

A Bench headed by Justice Pradeep Nandrajog has asked the Centre whether there is a policy in place as per which some kind of a screening is effected before granting visas.

“It has to be noted that many countries and especially Western nations insist on certification by doctors that the person who is seeking visa for entry in the country is free from ailment,” the judge said.

The Centre is to file a reply by October 12.

Centre nonplussed

The Centre has been asked to frame a guideline to be followed while issuing visa to foreign nationals and in particular the nationals of certain countries from where excessive drug pushing to India is being noticed.

The court was surprised at the Centre’s failure to formulate a policy despite the NCB pointing to such threats more in 1998 and later in 2003 during the bail hearing of two women AIDS patients — a Ugandan national Dorothy Namirumu and a Swiss citizen.

The court refused to drop prosecution against Nuoyim. But she was granted bail and allowed to go back to Nigeria on a bond.

“Terminally ill patients are susceptible to profitable offers from drug mafia as they will be badly in need of money for their treatment,” says Mukta Gupta, the lawyer for Delhi Police and Delhi Government.

“The drugs are generally concealed among their other medicines."