Demonetisation has come as a double whammy for drug peddlers in Himachal Pradesh as they are finding it difficult to sell their stock in the absence of higher-value currency.
Earlier, the government had destroyed over 3.5 crore psychoactive plants on more than 30,000 bighas of land during a three-month long campaign, which has caused major loss to the drug cartels operating in the state.
“While demonetisation has had an impact on every business, it has certainly dealt a severe blow to narcotics trade. But it is difficult to assess how much trade has been impacted since it’s all illegal,” said Padam Chand, Kullu superintendent of police.
“Post demonetisation, the quantity of drugs recovered during seizure has certainly come down,” he added.
BJP legislator Maheshwar Singh, who is also the scion of the erstwhile Kullu dynasty, said, “Demonetisation has had its impact on the prices of locally produced charas. Peddlers are finding it difficult to sell their stocks as the new currency is limited. I have told the people of Malana village to deposit their savings in the bank.”
Malana is an ancient village in Kullu which is famous for its high-quality charas produce—Mala Cream—that has won the world has his title twice.
“Whatever money we have is being deposited in the bank,” says Malana Panchyat head Bhagi Ram. He refuses to admit that the savings with the villagers is drug money. “Since, the nearest bank from the village is 35 kilometres away, people usually keep money with themselves,” he says.
The verdant valleys of Kullu, which are famous for its natural splendour, are also notorious for cannabis cultivation. With more rural populace indulging in drug trade, the economy of the remote region has transformed completely. Kullu and Manali towns have virtually become a harbour for drug peddlers, who are backed by international drug cartels. The villages in its surrounding are becoming new centres for narco-tourism.
Locals cultivate hybrid seeds of marijuana brought by foreigners. The high hybrid varieties are sold under different brands such as skunk, red hair, turbo diesel, early girl, white widow, flower power, morning California, haze skunks, AK-47. Besides the marginal villages of Kullu, the menace has spread to others parts of the state including the Chuhar valley of Mandi district, Tissa in Chamba and Bara Bhangal area of Kangra, where people have abandoned cultivation of other crops.
The cost of cannabis, which is produced locally, is anywhere between Rs 50, 000 andRs 60,000, depending upon quality of the charas extracted from plants.
This year alone, as many as 102 cases were registered under the NDPS act in Kullu district and 9 kg of charas were seized.