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ISI smuggling opium into India from Pakistan: NCB

Pakistan's ISI is helping drug peddlers smuggle opium into India through the border, says a senior official of the Narcotics Control Bureau.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2009 07:36 IST

Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is helping drug peddlers smuggle opium into India through the border, a senior official of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) said on Thursday.

"Afghanistan continues to remain a source of over 90 per cent illicit opium in the world. More than 55 per cent of opium in India originates from Afghanistan and is smuggled from Pakistan with the support of the ISI," said NCB deputy director general Om Prakash.

Prakash, who was speaking on the release of the annual report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), said: "We have specific leads about the role of the ISI in smuggling drugs to India." However, Prakash did not give further details.

On an average, about 2,000 kg - or teo tonnes - of opium poppy is seized annually in India.

The report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) also found that India is one of the largest illicit producers of cannabis in South Asia.

"Although law enforcement authorities in India regularly eradicate large areas of illicitly cultivated cannabis plants, a significant amount of cannabis still finds its way into the Indian market," the report said.

Shalini Dewan, director of UN Information Centre for India and Bhutan, said: "Another trend we have found is the diversion of pharmaceutical preparations, especially cough syrups, from illicit manufacturers in India to neighbouring countries."

India produces over 10 per cent of the world's pharmaceuticals and though the law regulates cannabis production and sale, there is still a need for monitoring compliance with the law.

"Even by the most conservative estimates, there are over 10 million drug users in South Asia and at any given point of time 0.6 million substance users require treatment," said Ashita Mittal, officer-in charge, UNODC.

The report found that the HIV transmission rate is still high among people who abuse drugs by injection in South Asian countries.

"In India, the prevalence of HIV infection among injecting drugs users in 2006 was estimated at a national average of 8.71 per cent, compared with 0.36 per cent in the general adult population," the report said.

First Published: Feb 20, 2009 07:31 IST