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Drug trade at India, Pak border being used to fund terror

November 02, 2011 15:46 IST

Rajasthan has become a major landing point from where drugs are distributed to the rest of the country. Vicky Nanjappa reports.

Rampant drug trade in India and Pakistan has become a reason of big worry for the two neighbouring countries. India, Pakistan had recently even entered into a pact to ensure that drug trade is curbed, as they felt it was in the best interest of both nations.

It is a well-know fact that Afghanistan and Pakistan are the birth places of drug trade, which eventually split over into India. Going by the manner in which India has managed to curb the drug trade, one could say that there is still a lot that remains to be done. Though the trade of drugs has not increased over the years, it has neither come down significantly.

While India may expect a lot from Pakistan to curb drug trade, it should realise that it would be better if it secured its borders first, instead of eternally waiting for some action from Pakistan.

Pakistan on the other hand would first need to control its own spy agency, which has actually used this drug trade to raise funds for terror operations.

Until recently, India had a problem with the drug trade, which emanated from the Pakistan border. Today, Indian faces the same problem at the Bangladesh border too.

It is a double-edged sword when it comes to improving trade ties with these countries. While on one hand relations do improve, on the other hand there are many who use these friendly ties to further the drug trade as well.

Rajasthan has become a major landing point from where drugs are distributed to the rest of the country. The state has become a pick up point, and to make matters worse, there is also a Kenyan and Nigerian mafia that help in distribution of drugs in India.

Over the past couple of months there have been a series of arrests that have been carried out in Rajasthan -- all of which have been associated with the drug trade. Those arrested have been found carrying large quantities of drugs ranging between 20 and 38 kilograms of heroin and brown sugar.

The Intelligence Bureau, which raised the alarm regarding Rajasthan, says that it has become the favourite landing point for everything illegal emanating out of Pakistan. Not only do drugs land in Rajasthan, but it has also become a hub for fake currency. A police officer from Rajasthan points out that during the course of their investigation they found that places such as Barmer and Bikaner were notorious for this racket.

There are several touts in the state and the moment the consignments land, agents or representatives of other states make arrangements to pick them up. According to the police, the racket is also dominant in places like Goa, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Of late, agencies have found Chennai to be a major hub for receiving drugs. The police have found that down south, Chennai is the biggest hub, which is controlled directly by the Goa module.

The consignment lands in Chennai and is collected by touts or agents who later distribute it to the rest of the country. Not only does this hurt India, but the same consignment is also sent outside the country and reaches the rest of the world too.

Indian agencies are finding it extremely difficult to monitor this trade. India shares a 1,100 kilometer long border with Pakistan, which makes it increasingly difficult to monitor everything that goes on.

This makes it necessary for the bordering nation to put in a lot of effort to control this racket. The police say that along with the army, they are doing their best, but at times slips do occur and this is when a treaty with Pakistan would come in handy.

The IB says that it is not very easy to control the drug trade since terrorist outfits will be looking for various ways to dodge security agencies. The money that is generated out of this trade is like feed for these organizations, and like fake currency, funds a large part of their operations.

The Inter-Services Intelligence also plays a major part in furthering this trade. In fact, they have used the D network to their advantage to carry out the drug trade. The D network is very well connected and has its roots deep in India. They are very familiar with the terrain and have been carrying forward their activity with ease. The D gang has been instructed to cough up at least 30 per cent of the income generated out of the drug trade for terror activities. 95 per cent of the drug trade today is controlled by the D gang, and thanks to groups such as the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, it manages to raise Rs 1500 crore per year.

Central agencies say that this is not something that can be dealt by the national agencies and the army alone. The state agencies too have their work cut out and unless there is proper cooperation and support this menace cannot be controlled. As per the Narcotics Control Bureau there are over five million drug addicts in India. The law clearly states that the NCB needs to provide all support to the state agencies and vice versa while dealing with this problem. The states have to send in a request seeking help to deal with the problem and the NCB has to act accordingly.

Today any state which is serious about dealing with the problem needs to satisfy the following requirements.

(a) A multi-disciplinary level coordination committee under the chairmanship of chief secretary or a senior secretary.

(b) An anti narcotics task force under an Inspector General level officer with duties and responsibilities duly demarcated.

(c) An action plan to address the issue that includes identification of regions sensitive to drug trafficking.

If these conditions are satisfied then the NCB has to help the states set up surveillance units and laboratories. The NCB will also have to provide states with an annual grant that would be subject to an utilisation certificate being provided.

While these requirements have been in place in almost every state in the country, the bigger issue is to address the issue at the border itself. Latest reports suggest that with the heat being turned up at the Indo-Pak border, terror groups and smugglers have been using the Bangladesh border to further this racket. There is a need for tight surveillance at these borders or else the menace could only get worse.

Since drug trade is directly associated with terrorism today, the issue becomes even more grave. When compared to the fake currency racket, the perpetrators of the trade have found it easier to supply drugs since there still continues to be a huge demand for the same. Also, terror networks have been pushing this trade more aggressively of late since they find the need to raise more money for their operations.

Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore