Special jackets, inside the body, in coffins and even inside pumpkins…smugglers are seeking out ingenious ways to sneak out drugs from India to Bangladesh making the neighbouring country a haven for Indian drugs.
“It is a huge concern for the entire region. The supply of illegal drugs in Bangladesh has increased and so has the demand,” said Mohammad Iqbal, director-general, Department of Narcotics Control, Bangladesh.
For Bangladesh, India is the main source for illegal narcotic drugs like phensedyl, amphetamines, ganja (cannabis) and other precursor substances for psychotropic drugs and also the transit to huge consignments of synthetic drugs from countries like Myanmar and China.
In the last five years, about one crore phensedyl bottles with Bangladesh as the destination has been seized along both sides of the border. “A crore of phensedyl bottles have been seized from both sides of the border in the last five years. And that is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Ajay Chadha, DG, Narcotics Control Bureau.
A bottle of India-made phensedyl sells for about 10-15 times more on the Bangladeshi side costing about 300 takas.
In July, a regional level meeting in Shillong of officials from the tax department, narcotics, customs, police and intelligence agencies, had underscored how phensedyl smuggling and ganja cultivation by illegal immigrants from Bangladesh along both sides of the Brahmaputra in western Assam was getting “too serious”.
The route to Bangladesh is usually along riverine tracts from the Indian states like Bengal, Assam and Tripura which is infamous because of its porous nature and breaches. It is also known for allowing unhindered passage for men seeking to enter Indian territories.
The two countries share a 4,165 km long border.
The ganja is grown for smuggling into Bangladesh and is cultivated mainly in the river’s sandbars locally called ‘chars’ or ‘saporis’ with tillers, tractors and fertilizers being used in the illegal farming effort.
“The cultivation is so extensively-spread and in such remote areas that even speculating on the numbers is difficult. After destruction by our teams, in no time another crop comes up,” a narcotics official had said admitting that one reason hampering stricter control is the acute lack of resources both in terms of men and material.