Decoding Thane’s New Year’s Eve rave party | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Decoding Thane’s New Year’s Eve rave party

ByAnamika Gharat, Thane
Feb 03, 2024 08:24 AM IST

This was no upscale event – the young adults from middle-class homes were found consuming LSD dots; and those who organised the party had attended similar parties in the past, before finding themselves in the vortex of the drugs business

Tejas Kubal, 22, an autorickshaw driver’s son who grew up in Kalwa, funded his own education and supported his family doing odd jobs. A bright man, he has good communication skills and is known to be soft-hearted. The third-year student of BSc (IT), who recently moved to Dombivili, is behind bars for two years, after being booked under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, for arranging a rave party in a forested area in Thane creek, off Godbunder Road, on December 31. Over 100 youths between the ages of 17 and 22 were rounded up from the spot.

Over 100 youngsters between the ages 17 and 22, mostly from middle-class homes, were detained along with drug peddlers from a rave party held at a forested area in Thane on December 31. (Praful Gangurde / HT Photo)
Over 100 youngsters between the ages 17 and 22, mostly from middle-class homes, were detained along with drug peddlers from a rave party held at a forested area in Thane on December 31. (Praful Gangurde / HT Photo)

This was no upscale event – the young adults from middle-class homes were found consuming LSD dots; and those who organised the party had attended similar parties in the past, before finding themselves in the vortex of the drugs business. It was a truly a first in Thane -- a city of lakes, where citizens are known for their love of the arts, environment and upholding a middle-class Maharashtrian ethos.

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So how is the youth here getting sucked into a life not determined for them?

This was Tejas’s trajectory – after small jobs, he wished to work as an events executive. His suaveness helped him build a good network and soon he was travelling to Mumbai several times a month. At one such event two years ago, he met a young peddler. Rave parties in Goa became the natural move. According to police sources, Tejas soon learnt about different drugs, became a regular at the parties, “enjoyed the Goa life, made decent money but was not addicted to drugs”. He focussed on learning the ropes and making money. By 2023 he became well-known to peddlers, who gave him small batches to sell for brisk returns.

Emboldened, he became a party organiser – his first big gig was a Navratri event last year which was attended by over 40 youngsters from Mumbai Central, western suburbs and Thane city. His Diwali Pahat was attended by 60 guests.

The next stop was the New Year’s Eve party – the invitation (with a nominal fee) posted on Instagram elicited over 100 responses; over 120 youngsters joined the party on December 30.

But a price was to be paid for this brazenness – Thane police got whiff of the event and landed up at the spot in the early hours of December 31.

The co-organiser of the rave, Sujay Mahadev’s father is blind and unemployed, while his mother is a vegetable vendor. As he is studying for a diploma in pharma, his grandmother spent bought him an iPhone for one lakh, on EMI, so that he could study well. Before she could pay her second instalment of the EMI from her savings, Sujay got arrested and his phone was confiscated.

Sujay and Tejas were known to each other since childhood; both wanted to make easy money and lead a fancy lifestyle to impress their friends, police interrogation revealed.

One of the 19-year-olds held by cops, is a student of science and a resident of Kalwa. He joined the party telling his parents that he was on a group study with friends. He told investigating officers later that friends had told him to join the party “as it would be relaxing and help me improve my studies”. He could only pay 700 and his friends paid the rest for his pass ( 1000). “I did not like it at first, but after an hour I got involved with the vibe of the party,” he told cops.

One of the main attractions of the rave was a tribute to Goa Gil,

an American-born musician, DJ, remixer and party organizer who is known as one of the founders of Goa trance psytrance movement in electronic music. Gil passed away in October 2023, and Tejas an ardent fan of his trance music, decided to pay a tribute.

Goa Gil’s music is a mainstay of all raves.

Tejas, a seasoned party planner, spotted the piece of land near the creek during a monsoon trip with friends last year. He struck a deal with the owner – Ganesh Raut, a peon in Thane Municipal Corporation, who has 20 guntha land -- for 10,000 per night. Raut told the police he had rented the land to Tejas and Sujay thrice.

Vikas Ghodke, senior police inspector, Thane crime branch, said, “A foul smell was hanging in the air when we went to raid the spot in the early hours of December 31. The place was full of filth with a big crowd of youngsters. There was garbage and even dead rats lying around.”

Ghodke added, by the time the police team reached the spot, “pills and LSD had been circulated”. “Many, including drug peddlers, ran away with their stash but we caught them later,” he said.

70gram charas, 0.41gram LSD paper, 2.10 gram Ecstasy pills, 200 gram ganja, and bottles of beer, wine, whiskey and other liquor were seized.

Thane crime branch officials said some drugs were brought from Goa; they named Aryan Shelar, 20, and Prathamesh Ingle, 23, as the suppliers. Shelar is a dealer in Kalwa while Ingle covers Thane City consumers. The main dealer is Krushnadev Mishra, 25, a resident of Panvel. He has been in business for seven years.

Investigating officers said easy availability of drugs in the distant suburbs such as Thane and Navi Mumbai is drawing children into the fray. Niraj Chaudhary, police inspector of the anti-narcotics cell in Navi Mumbai said, “The young are getting habituated due to peer pressure. Some use them even to seek sexual favours. They are not being circulated by hand. They are using snapchat, telegram, dark net and several other unknown apps to order their stashes,” said Chaudhary.

The officer named ZANGI App is specifically used for drug deals. The access is allowed after punching a 10-digit code; the buyer can make a video call and chat through the app with those who have access. “This is just one app. We have found several others created by different groups. Therefore, the youths feel that the apps are so safe that they will never come in the police radar,” he said.

This reporter met a 22-year-old from Navi Mumbai who said she became hooked to LSD and ganja to “get away from family problems”. “I used to get delivery of LSD dots for 2000. I was addicted and even spent 15,000 to fund my habit by stealing from my family. Once when I was short on cash, a dealer told me to make some sales and earn a dot in return. That’s how I became a sub-retailer,” she said. “My parents (her mother is a teacher and father a manager at a private firm) found out and put me on the path of rehabilitation. I am now set to start a new journey of my life.”

Sagar Kadam, a lawyers who has so far appeared for five NDPS cases, said, “Most youngsters are from middle-class backgrounds. Their parents trust them and try to fulfil their wishes because they couldn’t do the same for themselves. Some even take loans.”

Youths arrested for being in possession of commercial quantities do not get bail for a minimum of two years. And once out of jail, they have to give regular attendance to the police.

Many Nigerian nations are involved in drug trade in Navi Mumbai, said police sources. They have been involved for many years. They move in cliques and are also known to attack the police. They flush out all the material in their possession, during a raid. Two months ago, Navi Mumbai police arrested 75 Nigerians holding a 5 crore stash. Before the raid cops broke the drainage system and attached cloths at the end to collect the flushed-out packets of drugs. Cocaine formed 90% of the stash.

Navi Mumbai police commissioner, Milind Bharambe said, “My motto is to clean the city of drugs so that children can be saved from getting into this evil circuit. For the Nigerian-related raid our team from the anti-narcotic cell rarely went home for two months, as they were studying each move of the accused. Out awareness campaign is on. In one year, we have managed to recover 257 kgs of drugs worth 22 crore and arrested 811 accused.”

On the other hand, Thane’s CP Ashutosh Dumbre has asked his officers to conduct daily checks on roads and also schools to nab the drug peddlers, retailers and consumers.

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