On November 13 last year, Imtiaz Shahbuddin Sheikh, 31, a notorious drug peddler, was arrested from Shahu Nagar with a packet of Meow Meow, the popular name for Mephedrone.
On February 27 this year, another drug peddler, 20-year-old Mohammad Mubarak Feroze Sheikh, was arrested by the Pydhonie police with 105 gm of the same drug. Both have been booked.
While Imtiaz could face imprisonment for 6-10 years if convicted for his crime, Mohammad faces upto 20 years in prison. Mohammad’s chances of getting bail remain very slim compared to those of Imtiaz, though both were caught peddling the same drug, at different points of time.
Mephedrone, the use of which is now widespread among youngsters, was included in Schedule II of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, just a few weeks ago. It has now been put in the same bracket as other deadly synthetic drugs like Cocaine or LSD. Prior to this, the police would struggle to book those found with the drug, and reluctantly used Section 328 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which lacked specifications for Mephedrone.
“We have received the proverbial shot in the arm because of the legislation. This will help augment our efforts in going after the drug mafia,” said Namdeo Chavan, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), who heads the Anti Narcotics Cell (ANC) of the Mumbai police. He added that a couple of weeks ago, the police had received intimation from the Centre on the inclusion of Mephedrone (also known as MD) as a scheduled drug under the NDPS Act.
“This is a wake-up call for peddlers as well as users, as the punishment is no less severe for the latter,” Chavan said, adding that even the consumer can now face punishment of six months (and a cash fine of Rs10,000) for possession of as little as 2gm of the drug.
After receiving the intimation, the city police and the ANC have intensified their crackdown against the Mephedrone cartel, making 15 arrests in two weeks. The figure is high -- only 88 peddlers had been arrested in six months before the drug was scheduled under the NDPS Act. A total of 13.5 kg of the drug worth over Rs 2.5 crore has been seized in the open market in the city, since the inclusion.