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Nigerians back under glare

Intelligence agencies want a stricter screening of Nigerian and Afghan nationals who are issued Indian visas.

india Updated: Jun 05, 2006 02:47 IST
Archis Mohan
Archis Mohan

Intelligence agencies want a stricter screening of Nigerian and Afghan nationals who are issued Indian visas.

In the past five years, intelligence agencies have detected hundreds of cases of Nigerians and Afghans, who had come on student visas, indulging in smuggling of narcotics.

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and the customs department have arrested several Nigerian and Afghan nationals for dealing in heroin and cocaine. “An analysis of the arrests in the past two years shows how Nigerian nationals are abusing our hospitality,” said an officer.

Nearly all Nigerians arrested had stayed in the country on student visas as they had enrolled themselves in correspondence courses of Osmania, Annamalai, Jamia, Delhi and several such universities offering distance learning courses. “It is a plea they take for frequent visits to India, when they can very well pursue the course in Nigeria,” the senior officer said.

Even the passports of these students throw up identical patterns. Visits to the country are preceded and followed by a trip to Kabul and, at times, Pakistan.

In 2005, customs officials at IGI Airport had seized 25 kg of heroin and arrested six Nigerians. Officials concede this is a miniscule amount compared to what may be getting smuggled through the land and sea routes.

The DRI’s Delhi Zonal Unit seized nearly 130 kg of narcotics in 2005-06.

In a majority of these cases, they arrested Nigerian nationals as well as some Afghans and Indians. Officials recount how many of these led lavish lifestyles, changed cars every year and would buy expensive jewellery and clothes.

Despite claims by the US, there has been a huge increase in smuggling of heroin via the land route, officials said. The Taliban which control poppy cultivating areas is very much in control, they said. The Punjab border has, in fact, become very porous, they said. “Amritsar is full of drug addicts,” an officer said.

The arrest of Afghan drug peddler Ali alias Naqibullah by Delhi Police in 2001 had exposed how the Capital’s cocaine club.

Officials said drugs money were being used to fund terrorist activities.

First Published: Jun 05, 2006 02:47 IST