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How cannabis from Jammu and Kashmir reaches Mumbai

With very few international takers, cannabis from the region is supplied across the country, say police

mumbai Updated: Feb 06, 2018 09:37 IST
Manish K Pathak
The intelligence bureau is checking if the drug money is being used to fuel militancy in J&K, said sources.
The intelligence bureau is checking if the drug money is being used to fuel militancy in J&K, said sources.(FILE)

With seizures worth Rs2.06 crore, cannabis, locally known as charas, emerged as the second-most smuggled drug in the city, with most of it coming from Jammu & Kashmir, followed by Himachal Pradesh.

Police sources claim the cannabis produced in Himachal Pradesh is of the highest quality. International syndicates smuggle most of it, leaving very little for the Indian market, said sources. The situation in militancy-hit J&K is the opposite. With very few international takers, cannabis from the region is supplied across the country. “Cannabis from Jammu & Kashmir is supplied to Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa, and some states in the south,” said an ANC officer, requesting anonymity.

Along with the role of Mumbai’s underworld in the cannabis supply chain racket, intelligence bureau is checking if drug money is being used to fuel militancy in J&K, said sources.

In 2017, the ANC managed to crack down on key suppliers from the region and recovered cannabis worth Rs 1.40 crore in Mumbai. Haji Abdul Rehman Ali Mohammad Sheikh, 67, a resident of Anantnag district of Kashmir, who allegedly supplied 25-30kg of charas to the city every month was arrested in July, along with his aide Irfaan Maisar Qureshi, a 42-year-old taxi driver from Nagpada. The police recovered 21kg of charas (worth Rs80 lakh) from them.

Narrating Sheikh’s modus operandi, an official said he used to reach Mumbai two days ago before the consignment would be dropped on the outskirts of the city. Sheikh and his Mumbai-based drug peddler would bring it into the city in a taxi, so they wouldn’t arouse suspicion.

The supplier also use to send charas in smaller quantities in baggages on flights, but it would mostly get caught during scanning by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) at the airport.

In 2010, the Worli unit of the ANC had arrested Sheikh and seized 39kg of cannabis from him. He was convicted to 10 years imprisonment. He was granted bail in 2014.

A month after Sheikh’s arrest, the ANC busted another gang of Kashmiri suppliers, with the arrest of Ishafaq Ahmed Mohammad Ashraf Reshi, 23, a motor mechanic from Srinagar, with 15kg of charas (worth Rs60 lakh) in Malad (East).

According to the ANC, the supplier had three modes of transportation -- trucks, trains and flights. “The charas was mostly sent from Jammu and Kashmir in apple trucks and the consignments were unloaded near vegetable markets on the outskirts of Mumbai. From there, they would be distributed to a local supplier,” said Shivdeep Lande, deputy commissioner of ANC.

Regulating production and consumption of cannabis in India has always been tough, as the resin extracted from the cannabis plant was used for religious and medicinal purposes.

While India became signatory to the International treaty Single Convention on narcotic drugs, where cannabis was categorised as hard drugs, in 1961, the drug was banned only in 1985 when the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act was passed. “Different agencies have tried to stop cultivation of cannabis at different points. But farmers in remote districts have moved their fields to the hills, making the crackdown tougher,” said an ANC officer, who has been studying the modus operandi closely.