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Hardcore drug peddlers push for a softer law

GUESS WHO is clamouring for an anti-drug law to be made more lenient? Drug peddlers lodged in Lucknow and Barabanki district jails! Perhaps, if they had their way, murderers should be let off with mild punishment. Ditto for other criminals. All this is not good news for a State whose minister was recently caught on camera accepting his involvement in the narcotics trade.

india Updated: Feb 23, 2006 01:28 IST

GUESS WHO is clamouring for an anti-drug law to be made more lenient? Drug peddlers lodged in Lucknow and Barabanki district jails!

Perhaps, if they had their way, murderers should be let off with mild punishment. Ditto for other criminals. All this is not good news for a State whose minister was recently caught on camera accepting his involvement in the narcotics trade.

While that minister has resigned, the jailed drug peddlers have joined hands to pressure the Central Government through written representations to make the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act lenient. They have been writing to virtually everyone who matters, right from the State Government to the President of India, demanding amendments to what they call draconian’ provisions, especially Section 37 of the Act. Never shy of making even innocent children drug addicts, these convicts and undertrials now have the cheek to say that the NDPS Act violates human rights and must be amended to make it more ‘humane’.

In a letter bearing their signatures or thumb impressions, about 100 such inmates of the Barabanki jail have asked the Union Finance Minister to amend Section 37 of the NDPS Act, 1985, which they said was a ‘one-sided and unjust law’.

“The authorities are using the Act as a tool to openly violate human rights,” they alleged, demanding abrogation of Section 37.

They said convicts guilty of committing heinous crimes were entitled to remission of punishment, but the same relaxation was not available to those convicted under the NDPS.

“Why this step-motherly treatment to us, are we not Indian citizens?” they questioned.

This letter was written in April last year, but sources in the Central Bureau of Narcotics, UP, disclosed that this was just the beginning.

Not only have they been regularly sending their representations to various offices, but have also formed associations. “Sometimes, the Uttar Pradesh Government has sought our comments on drug traffickers’ representations,” they disclosed.

Sources said similar letters were being written by the Lucknow district jail inmates among whom are known drug lords Kurdus and Abdulla. Likewise, among the Barabanki jail inmates demanding a softer NDPS Act are big drug traffickers like Dr Jaipal Verma and Iqbal Mohammad, besides others like Gaya Prasad, Krishna Kumar Shukla, Arvind Kumar Tiwari, Rafiq, Mata Prasad, Banda Ali and Desh Raj.

The issue of drug trafficking in UP came in the limelight once again after Minister of State Haji Mehboob Ali was shown accepting his involvement in the illicit drug trade in a sting operation mounted by a news channel.

The minister also named his ministerial colleague Rakesh Verma for being involved in the illegal trade.

Sources in the Narcotics Bureau said many Uttar Pradesh politicians were, directly or indirectly, involved in drug trafficking.

“UP is so strategically located that there is no dearth of either demand for or supply of opiates,” they explained.

At present, opium is cultivated in Lucknow, Barabanki, Rae Bareli, Mau, Ghazipur, Badaun, Shahajahanpur and Bareilly.

These districts are the hub of the heroin and morphine trade.

Sources claimed that of the 120 big drug traffickers arrested by the Narcotic Bureau in last three years, at least 15 operated on a large scale. No wonder, many of them were politically well connected,” revealed sources.

First Published: Feb 23, 2006 01:28 IST