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Punjab is new haven for drug traffickers

Mehtab Singh

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NEW DELHI: For drug traffickers in India, Punjab appears to be the new gateway for smuggling in narcotic substances.

Drug traffickers use the cities of Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Amritsar, Kapurthala, Ferozepur, Ludhiana and Patiala as well as Chandigarh to smuggle in narcotic substances through Punjab, says a report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

After Delhi and Mumbai, which have long been transit points for narcotic substances, studies have found that the seven cities in Punjab are increasingly being used as transit points in the country.

"The cross-border movement of people between India and Pakistan could be one of the reasons as there has been a decline in the number of security forces guarding the borders," said a programme officer of the UNODC.

"There is trafficking from other areas of India's western borders as well," said the UNODC official, who did not want to be named. She added that Jammu and Kashmir continues to be another area from where narcotic substances were being smuggled into the country.

The report also suggests that the drugs being smuggled in from Pakistan were then smuggled out of the country via Delhi and Mumbai. The report further suggests that some of the drugs also go out of the country through Bangladesh's borders.

"The drug trafficking trade has increased by at last 30-40 per cent in the last year ever since the cross-border civilian movement increased between India and Pakistan," said a Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) official.

He added that three months ago the agency had arrested five people at the Atari railway station in Punjab on charges of smuggling heroin into India.


"This was the first time we found that traffickers were using the train route between India and Pakistan to smuggle narcotic substances," said the official.

"While these five were caught, we are not sure how many of them go undetected," he added.

He said that 30 per cent of the drugs seized by them in the past three years were produced in Afghanistan and smuggled into India through the India-Pakistan border.

"The only way to stop this menace is to increase the checking of passengers and by taking measures being used at airports to check drug trafficking."

According to the UNODC report, over 20,000 cases of heroin smuggling have been registered in the country since 2002 and over 4,400 kg of the drug seized during the same period.

The data for cocaine suggests that 66 cases have been registered since 2002 and over 214 kg cocaine seized in the past five years. The report also suggests that methaqualone, ephedrine, acetic anhydride and amphetamine were some of the other drugs recovered in the past five years.

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Guest Javanmard

I am surprised about the mention of cocaine. I would have expected heroine as derivative of opium from Afghanistan via Pakistan. Kal Jug is getting stronger day by day!

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