More than two years after mephedrone or meow meow, as it is commonly known, was listed as a banned substance under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1958, the Mumbai Police are still waiting for detection kits that will help them conduct spot tests to ascertain if contraband seized is indeed mephedrone. The kits were to have been provided by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), the nodal national drug law enforcement and intelligence agency.
The Anti Narcotic Cell (ANC), the specialised wing of the Mumbai Police responsible for fighting drug trafficking and abuse of illegal substances, requires five such kits for each of its units. Till date, the ANC does not have a single kit.
The issue came to light recently, during the hearing of the bail application filed by a Nigerian national who contested his arrest claiming that the ANC doesn’t even have detection kit to conduct spot tests, and the court asked the ANC to file a reply.
The ANC then wrote to the NCB on the status of the kits. Replying to the queries, the NCB last month reverted saying that the kits have not been made available to any local agency or department in the state.
When contacted, Deputy Commissioner of Police, ANC, Shivdeep Lande, said the NCB had recently appraised them of the non-availability of the detection kits. “They have written to us stating that the kits are not being made available to any local agency in the state,” Lande said.
Sources in Mumbai Police said in the absence of detection kits, one has to depend on the Chemical Analysis (CA) report that generally takes a couple of weeks to reach. It sometimes works in the advantage of the accused.
In the absence of kits, the local police have found an ingenious way of ascertaining the chemical-by sniffing it. “Right now, the cases are made on source-based information. Once we learn about the drug being peddled, a team is pressed in. MD (mephedrone) has a specific odour that one can identify after being accustomed to it over a period of time. Our officers use their expertise to make the initial assessment of the chemical that is seized. If we have the kit, we could deal with this more scientifically,” said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Mephedrone or meow meow, an indigenous synthetic drug, is popular among the age group of 16 to 27 years. Seen as a substitute of cocaine, the drug consumption reached its peak in 2013.
However, after the Mumbai Police started a massive crackdown, peddling and consumption level of the drug fell. In February 2015, the drug was listed as a banned substance under the NDPS Act.
This year, the number of drug-related cases have spiked once again. Between January 1 and July 18 this year, the ANC has registered 19 cases worth Rs 6,51,66,000. During the same corresponding period last year, 12 cases worth Rs 59,94,000 had been registered.
However, non-availability of the detection kit is not the only hindrance for ANC officials. While the confession of the accused before an officer from the NCB is admissible as evidence under the NDPS Act, the same does not hold for a confession before the local police.
“After getting information from our sources, we probe the accused who, in most cases, confesses to peddling meow meow commercially. However, the admission is not taken as evidence in the case probed by us. This is not the same in cases where the accused is nabbed by the NCB and the confession is made before an NCB official under the NDPS Act,” explained an official.
Another officer said: “The only evidence that help us bag conviction is the CA report. Other evidence doesn’t adduce the kind of confidence before the court as might happen in cases where the seizure is made by central agencies.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines