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Cracking the coke code

AS Cheema, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Narcotics, tells Anupam Thapa that there is plenty to be done.

india Updated: Jun 24, 2006 01:14 IST

The consumption of cocaine in the city has shot up in the past two years. The Narcotics and Crime Prevention branch is doing its best to check the surge but there is plenty to be done, AS Cheema, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Narcotics, tells Anupam Thapa.

Has cocaine become a lifestyle disease?

Yes it has become a lifestyle disease but only in a limited segment of society, which can afford this drug. Cocaine is an expensive drug and only a niche segment can afford it. People frequenting the lounge bars and discotheques are the main consumers of cocaine.

What is the Delhi Police doing to curb its widespread use?

We are not for publicity so we don't target high-profile consumers. Instead we are targeting the peddlers and dealers who are into this business. We track these dealers through our information-based network and we study the delivery pattern. We are trying to study the network and the flow of drugs from the dealers to consumers. Based on information from sources we try and nab these dealers red handed, but it takes time. It is not instant.

We track the movements of the dealers constantly and only when we are sure they are making a deal that we arrest them.

What about the role of Nigerians in Delhi's cocaine ring?

I want to make a particular thing clear-we are not targeting people from any particular community or nationality. In the same way we are not against Nigerians as such. But during our investigations in some cases related to Nigerians, we found the arrested persons were overstaying in India and had forged visas. So, we took the matter with higher authorities to alert them. We are only gunning for the drug dealers and some recent coke-related
arrests were to do with them.

It was only last year that large-scale cocaine-related arrests were made by the Delhi Police?

At the moment, we have a strength of about 50 people and the Narcotics and Crime Prevention branch is a non-sanctioned unit. We are working on the basis of available personnel on loan from other units of the Delhi Police. But the Commissioner of Police, Dr KK Paul, is vigorously working towards making the Narcotics branch as a sanctioned unit. A staff of 115 has been sanctioned for the Narcotics branch. Once this happens then we will have a full-fledged department

All the drug dealers arrested manage to get bail and it is back to square one…

Yes, we are facing problems with this. Actually the commercial quantity of cocaine is kept as 100 gram. If the recovery is less, then it is easy for them to get bail. Moreover, the courts these days decide the merit of the case on the basis of purity percentage of the cocaine recovered from the accused.

All these technical things help the accused secure bail. Take the case of Ruhail Nazir, for instance, arrested by us with seven grams of cocaine in 2005. After he got bail, he was back to his own ways. He was again arrested last month selling eight grams of cocaine. Ruhail hails from Kashmir and after pursuing his studies he stayed back in Delhi. He had earlier worked in a call centre for about a year and had also started a business of handicrafts in Paharganj, but the lure of easy money brought him into the illegal world of drug trafficking. There are several instances like this in Delhi.