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Drug trade on a high in Kashi

MORE THAN for spiritualism, Varanasi has now come to be known as ?a transit point for drug-peddling? in the official records of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

india Updated: Jun 06, 2006 01:21 IST

MORE THAN for spiritualism, Varanasi has now come to be known as ‘a transit point for drug-peddling’ in the official records of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

Varanasi falls on the peddlers’ route. Drugs are supplied from Nepal and Rajasthan to Bihar and West Bengal via this city of temples.

In the past two months, the NCB office recorded hauls of drugs worth Rs 20 crore. The list included heroin, charas, opium and brown sugar. This was just the tip of the iceberg.The illegal opium crop around Gazipur is yet another example of how the drug trade flourishes in Varanasi, thanks to the police-mafia nexus.

Recently, the NCB’s local sleuths nabbed Vakil Ahmad and recovered 1.60 kg of brown sugar from him in Lallapura, under the Sigra police station. It was by no means an isolated incident.

Because of instances like these, Varanasi, once more famous for its spiritual environment, is now becoming notorious as the hub of the contraband trade.

This trade is thriving due to involvement of locals and unauthorised street guides. Foreign tourists come to this ‘narco paradise’ to lift their spirits as they are bored with the fast life in their own countries.

They come on tourist visas, usually for a period of three to six months. After the expiry of their visas, many go to Nepal. The aim is to get a visa extension. Elite tourists stay in star hotels just for two days.

On the third day, they depart for New Delhi, Mumbai or Kathmandu. Lower and middle income group vacationers prefer to stay for weeks and even months in different lodges situated on the Ganga banks. The stay of Indian tourists here is restricted by lodge managers. They turn towards the major ghats in the city and the areas nearby where small lodges are situated.

The most common contraband being supplied on the ghats is heroin. Most lodge owners earn money through the illegal supply of narcotics to their foreign guests.

First Published: Jun 06, 2006 01:21 IST