The interrogation of two marijuana peddlers about the source of the contraband took the police to a two-and-half-acre plot on Mula-Mutha riverbed in Mundhwa where officers discovered 450 cannabis plants that had been thriving there for the past several months. Based on the probe till now, cops believe that the growth of the cannabis could have happened because of the seed dispersal from initial natural growth.
On February 13, the anti-narcotics cell of Pune police received a tip-off about two persons from Mundhwa allegedly peddling marijuana on a bike. A trap was laid in Mundhwa and Suraj Atole (19) and Nitin Adagale (22) — residents of Mundhwa and working as labourers on construction site in the nearby area — were arrested.
Police initially recovered 1.6 kg marijuana worth Rs 35,000. Cell in-charge Inspector Sunil Tambe said, “Initially, the two were not telling us from where they had been procuring the contraband. But after sustained interrogation, they took us to a spot in the riverbed in Mundhwa. The secluded patch is located behind a lot of major IT companies, under-construction buildings and plush housing societies.”
Police said the land is owned by the irrigation department. The police team found 450 cannabis plants weighing over 64 kg and worth Rs 5.6 lakh, which were removed after a panchnama. The plants were growing at random spots and even in the swampy patches.
When Newsline visited the spot, Raju Kamble, a shepherd, said: “We have seen some people moving suspiciously in the area. But we never dared to ask as we feared they would be criminals or anti-social elements. We also had a doubt that they would be looking for marijuana, but we never paid attention to what they were up to.”
Inspector Tambe added, “Prima facie, this looks like a growth due to seed dispersal from initial natural growth. The two suspects plucked leaves from these plants and sold them in and around upmarket areas like Kondhwa, Mundhwa and Koregaon Park. We are probing whether other people also came to the spot or were looking after the plants.”
The investigating team comprised API Vinod Patil, PSI Arun Gaud and constables Ashok Pernekar, Rakesh Gujar, Ramdas Jadhav, Krushna Nighalkar, Rajendra Barshinge, Vasudev Patil and Dnyandev Ghanwat.