While two terror attacks in Punjab in the past six months have laid bare the gaping holes in the state’s 553-km-long border with Pakistan, the terrorists’ modus operandi has turned the spotlight on the nexus between drug smugglers and security personnel.
In March 2012, after years of a nonchalant approach towards the drug menace, the state government went cracking against drug smugglers and peddlers. The mandate to then director general of police Sumedh Singh Saini was to “identify and smash” the drug networks and their supply lines. The police top brass was instructed to entertain “zero political interference”.
The drive revealed that the accusations of police-smuggler nexus were not unfounded. In two years (2013 and 2014), at least 70 personnel of the Punjab Police were found working in collusion with trans-border narcotic smuggling networks, as per police records.
Of them, 48 cops were summarily dismissed from service after their links with drug smugglers/peddlers surfaced. Another 19 policemen were arrested on similar charges. The dismissed officials included deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Dinesh Singh, against whom the charge was that he “misused his official position to promote drug trafficking.” Sub-inspector (SI) Kulwant Singh was sacked for having a “nexus with drug peddlers” while posted as the station house officer (SHO) at Kahnuwan (Gurdaspur district).
More than 57,000 peddlers and smugglers were arrested in 48,138 cases, leading to the seizure of 1,744 kg of heroin (from 2012 to September 2015).
“The state government adopted a zero-tolerance policy on drugs and gave clear directions to the police. As a result, the drug distribution network has been ruthlessly broken and transit lines of major Pakistan-based heroin cartels snapped in the past four years,” says Saini, who remained the state police chief from March 2012 to October 2015.
The clean-up drive helped the police bust international cartels, starting from one “Arif Mohammad alias Doctor” in Pakistan. The arrests have been indicative of the flourishing drug trade between Pakistan and Punjab. And, the drug smuggler-police-politician nexus is blamed for the easy availability of drugs in the state.