Mumbai's drug problem leaves cops in daze

  • Faisal Tandel and Vijay Kumar Yadav, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Dec 10, 2014 19:58 IST

A college student walks up to a man in one of Mumbai’s numerous bylanes. “Give me one book,” he tells the man. Within seconds, the man hands over something not even remotely connected to academics — he gives the student one gram of Mephedrone, the latest drug that has become a rage among the city’s youth.

Areas such as Worli, Malad, Jogeshwari, Wadala, Kurla, Chembur, Sewri, Dongri, Govandi in Mumbai and Mumbra and Kalyan have become major centres for this synthetic drug, the police said. But there is one major problem: The drug is not registered in the list of banned drugs under the Narcotics, Drugs and Psychotropic Substance (NDPS) Act, making it tough for the police to crack down on the peddlers. “Mephedrone drug abuse has become a menace,” said Kumar Sanjay Jha, zonal director, Narcotics Control Bureau, Maharashtra and Goa.

“All the necessary proposals to add Mephadrone under the purview of NDPS Act have been sent to the government departments concerned. Till then, we are trying to create awareness through educational programmes,” said Jha.

The drug, which induces a state of euphoria, has become a substitute for the more expensive cocaine or amphetamines and MDMA. “The drug has become a rage because it is very cheap. One can get a gram of Mephedrone for anywhere between Rs 500-700. While good quality cocaine will cost upwards of Rs5,000 per gram,” said a police officer.

Such is the demand from this synthetic drug that a 35-year-old drug peddler from Kurla, Bablu, has stopped selling hashish, and now sells Mephedrone. “Most of my customers are youngsters. One of my regular customers is a college student, who comes with his friends in a car,” said Bablu, refusing to give his full name.

Bablu said the rise in consumption has also created awareness about its ill effects, which has alerted the Mumbai police, making it tough to sell the drug. “Now we supply only to our regular customers. They call us, and we deliver it in bulk to them, ensuring we do not meet at the same spot each time,” said another peddler.

Youngsters give bulk orders also to make quick money. “One of my customers, who would buy one gram usually, began buying five grams from me for Rs 700 per gram. He would keep a gram for personal use and sell the remaining for anywhere between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500 per gram,” added Bablu.

Bablu spoke of a middle-aged woman as a known drug peddler in Worli, who sells it in bulk quantity, while another peddler operates from Kokari Agar in Wadala, close to Wadala TT police station.

Munna Sahil, a businessman from Mumbra, who has joined hands with the Thane anti-narcotic cell against drug peddlers said, “The government should look into the matter urgently and take strict action. Youngsters between the age group of 14 and 30 years are become addicted to this new drug.”

Parag Manare, DCP, Thane crime branch, said, “We have already started a campaign along with our anti-narcotics Cell. We have also conducted awareness programmes in Mumbra.”

(Pseudo names of some of the peddlers were withheld)

Case studies:

Corporator tips off police about peddler, after son gets addicted
The 19-year-old son of a corporator from Bhiwandi took to Mephedrone (MD) a few months ago. The youngster (who didn’t wish to be named) began losing weight drastically, which made his father investigate.

The boy lost nearly 8kg within a fortnight, said police officials. His father independently conducted an investigation and found the boy was given drugs at a pan stall at Ekta chowk in the Khadipada area of Bhiwandi.

The corporator told the police, who arrested 34-yearold Faisal Akbar Ansari with five grams of MD worth Rs 2,500. But since Mephedrone is not a banned substance, the peddler was released on bail after being sent to police custody for a brief period.

“We tried to prove the illeffects of the drug with the help of patients’ medical reports. But since the drug is not listed under the NDPS Act, peddlers are released on bail,” said a police officer, from Thane ANC, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Newly-wed couple tries drug on honeymoon, gets addicted
A Mumbai-based youngster was introduced to MD at a party. He found the drug to be relaxing, and at the same time made him feel energetic. That was just a one-off occasion when he consumed the drug. But things went awry after his marriage.

The youngster, who knew the drug induced mild sexual stimulation, consumed the drug and asked his wife to do the same on their honeymoon.

The couple got addicted to the drug and began consuming on regularly. Their addiction, however, has taken a violent turn.

When they consume the drug, they get violent and attack each other with utensils, which has created a problem for neighbours in their locality. But as soon as the effect of the drug dies down, they behave like any normal couple, said Dr. AM Gabhrani, consultant psychotherapist and psychiatric counsellor at Masina Hospital, Byculla.

(Reported by Faisal Tandel)

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