Poppy husk smuggling up in Barmer, but no excise case registered in 10 years
Smuggling of doda post (lanced poppy husk) is on the rise in Barmer district after government supply of the narcotic was banned from April 2016, but the excise department has registered no case in 10 years though police have seized 11,000 kg of the substance from smugglers in two years since the ban, officials said.
Doda is the leftover husk of an opium plant once the milk has been extracted. Before the ban, husk was supplied to around 260 outlets, issued permits by the Rajasthan excise department. About 19,000 licence-holders were eligible to get a limited quantity of doda from the licensed outlets.
Most licence-holders live in the desert districts of western Rajasthan — Barmer, Jaisalmer, and Jodhpur. Before the government outlets were shut down, the health department set up detoxification camps for a year for people addicted to doda.
A reality check at the ground reveals that the ban is only on paper as thousands are still using the drug. The banned drug is available in rural areas, though at three times the earlier price.
Data shows that about 11,000 kg doda worth Rs 6 crore in the international market has been seized by Barmer police in 94 cases registered after the ban. This year the police registered 33 cases under NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act and seized about 1,000 kg doda.
District excise officer Devendra Dasora confirmed that doda smuggling has gone up after the ban and that not a single case has been registered. Asked why excise officials failed to track doda smuggling cases when police could seize a huge consignment, Dasora said, “In comparison to the police department, we (excise department) do not have sufficient staff and resources.”
He said instead of sharing inputs with the excise department, mukhbirs (informers) prefer to approach the police department. “This is the main reason why the police department is able to track such cases.”
There is a policy to reward informers for giving information about illegal smuggling of liquor, Dasora said. “I have no idea about such a reward policy in doda cases. Perhaps because of this mukhbirs avoid approaching excise officials.”
Drinks laced with opium and poppy husk have been an old ritual during ceremonies, including weddings in western Rajasthan. As the retail outlets for selling doda closed down on March 31, 2016, licenced addicts suddenly found themselves without their daily fix.
Cultivation of the opium poppy is illegal under Section 8 of the NDPS Act, 1985. However, Rule 8 allows cultivation against a licence issued by the Central Bureau of Narcotics. Licit cultivation of opium is allowed in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, but only in certain pockets that are notified annually by the Centre.