Frequent seizures of heroin, arms and ammunition, and fake currency from goods train as well as Samjhauta Express coming from Pakistan have thrown up serious security challenges for India. Despite regular protest letters from India and meetings of customs officials of both sides, things haven't changed but only gone bad.
The recent seizure of 105-kg heroin has baffled the security agencies. Not only heroin, many a time, the customs and other agencies have seized firearms and ammunition and even the fake currency in big numbers.
Since past sometime, both India and Pakistani customs officials have started to hold meetings with each other to discuss key issues, including smuggling.
In the seven meetings till now, every time Pakistan assured of adopting a strict stance, news of consignment being found from the goods train or Samjhauta Express coming from Pakistan followed.
Perturbed with the recoveries, traders had stopped cement import for 25 days a couple of months ago. Though the import started after an assurance of a strict vigil, nothing has changed. Earlier, the drug consignments were hidden under the goods train, but now the recent three seizures have shown that that the drug was placed inside the wagon.
Now the Indian Customs had taken up the issue with the union finance ministry and apprised them of the situation.
Deputy commissioner (customs) Vijay Bahadur Singh said, "We are keeping a close eye on goods train coming from Pakistan. We were always alert; but after the seizure of 105-kg heroin, we have further stepped up the checking."
He further said the department had taken up with the railways about sprucing up the facilities at the rail cargo and also time that train takes between Attari and the Amritsar station. "Talks are on in this regard at a higher level," he added.
October 8: 105-kg heroin, 500 cartridges (goods train)
July 16: 7-kg heroin (goods train)
June 2: 5-kg heroin (goods train)
May 26: 10-kg heroin, Rs. 15.83 lakh (a bag was found near the rail track)
May 19, 2011: Two pistols, 3 magazines, 50 cartridges (goods train)
August 2010: 1-kg heroin, Rs. 9.5-kg heroin (goods train)
January 2009: 14.3-kg heroin (Samjhauta Express)
May 2009: Rs. 10-lakh fake currency (Samjhauta Express)
No scanners at ICP
The Indian government has spent more than Rs. 100 crore to erect a new integrated check post with all modern facilities but as far as the security is concerned, truck scanners are still not installed.
Despite then home minister P Chidambaram's assurance in April that truck scanners would be installed soon, import coming from Pakistan in trucks is being checked manually.
Rail cargo in a mess
At the Amritsar rail cargo, trains coming from Pakistan halt and goods are unloaded. The facilities at rail cargo do not meet the required standards. Besides, basic facilities are absent and security is always under question. Fences are broken from various places, sheds are leaking, goods are stored in open at times and there is hardly a check on the entrants.
The customs department claims that it has written to the railways many times to upgrade the facility but nothing has happened. Even the local traders have taken up the issue with authorities, but without success.