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Bengal unwilling to share information on narcotics with Centre

In December 2016, the state government directed the state police not to send any report to the Centre on law and order situation unless it was cleared by the chief minister’s office.

kolkata Updated: Jan 23, 2017 13:54 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
Poppy,West Bengal,Mamata Banerjee
File picture of illegal poppy cultivation. Poppy is illegally cultivated on large tracts of land in Malda, Murshidabad and Nadia and intelligence officers suspect the money also part finances terror elements. (HT Photo)

Opening yet another front of confrontation with the Centre, Bengal government is unwilling to share crucial information on narcotics in the state.

The state government has directed the state excise department not to share any information with the central agency, Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) unless cleared by the chief minister’s office (CMO).

This means that NCB, which always operate in coordination with state excise departments concerned, will face major hurdles in operating in West Bengal.

“Our coordination with NCB is related to sharing of information of illegal cultivation of poppy, the principal raw material for manufacture of drugs like opium, cocaine and heroine, in different pockets of the state, following which joint raids are conducted to destroy the illegal poppy. But last week a clear instruction has been given to us that in case NCB asks for any report from us, we should share the same with the central agency only after clearance from CMO,” said a senior state excise department official, on condition of anonymity.

The relation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is passing through a historic low. (HT Photo)

State finance minister Dr Amit Mitra, who is also the state excise minister was incommunicado, and so was his departmental secretary H K Dwivedi.

In similar move in the last week of December 2016, the state government directed the state police directorate not to send any report to the Union home ministry on the state’s law and order situation unless cleared by the CMO.

Such multi-layered sharing of information between central and state agencies is being viewed as threat for national security, considering the fact West Bengal excise department has witnessed earnest preparations on the ground for illegal cultivation of poppy in the Bangladesh-bordering district of Malda, which was also known as the national of hub of fake Indian currency notes.

“This is an undesirable example of mistrust and animosity in a federal structure...Bengal and Centre had been in politically opposite directions since 1977. But was never routine exchange of information compromised,” said a city-based political analyst.

First Published: Jan 23, 2017 13:54 IST