February 6, 2009 11:49:38 pm
Huge cache of heroin this year has rang alarm bells. Notwithstanding the barbed fence at the Indo-Pak border,which is electrified at night,smuggling goes on unabated,especially through the riverine belts.
A well-knit network of smugglers operating from various parts of the state and outside,poor intelligence and surveillance systems have made the border a heaven for the drug mafia. The political patronage to peddlers and
ill-prepared police force,apart from high yield of opium crop in Afghanistan,is adding to the woes of the security agencies.
In Punjab alone,over 270 kgs of heroin costing Rs 1,350 crore in the international black market was seized in the past one year; the total business through this border touched Rs 5,000 crore in a year.
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Notably,more than five agencies are working to track smugglers,who have set up networks in Pakistan and Afghanistan to ensure a steady supply of drugs. The activity in riverine belts,falling in Amritsar,Gurdaspur,Ferozepur and Tarn Taran districts,is giving sleepless nights to the security agencies,especially the Border Security Force.
Rivers,Ravi and Satluj,keep changing their course,washing away the fences,besides the smugglers have evolved novel ways of dropping the packets from across the fence at strategic points. And due to high returns,drug couriers brave all the dangers to fetch them.
During terrorism,these routes were used for smuggling arms,ammunition,fake currency and narcotics and pushing in trained terrorists. The heroin,which grows in Afghanistan where cultivation of poppy is not illegal,makes way to Pakistan and finally is smuggled into India for markets in Delhi,Mumbai,Nepal,and also reaches Middle East and Europe.
The high yield of opium in Afghanistan has led to the bulk production of heroin and other contrabands,resulting in spurt in smuggling,” said IG (Border Range) Raj Pal Meena.
Though he denied that there was lack of coordination among various security agencies,saying that huge seizures were proof that the police and other agencies were alert,he admitted that there was need to take more stringent measures. He held the porous borders,which could not be fully sealed,responsible for the rising drug trade.
Mobile phones,he said,have made the task of smugglers easy. SSP (Intelligence) Parveen Kumar Sinha said due to having heavy deployment of forces along the J&K border,smugglers’ whole concentration is on Punjab border. Dr RS Sandhu,former head of the Department of Sociology,Guru Nanak Dev University,who recently did an extensive study on the advice of Punjab Governor Gen SF Rodrigues (retd),concluded that high incidence of drug addition in Punjab,especially along the border in rural areas,was directly linked to the supply of heroin from across the border.
Intelligence failure and political patronage to peddlers were also cited as reasons for the menace. BSF officials,meanwhile,said it was due to their alertness that various consignments were seized. “Though we have sealed the border,I do not say there is no possibility of intrusion. We have identified the gaps,where surveillance and patrolling has been intensified,” said a senior BSF officer.
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