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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Probe Mundra port role in import of heroin: Court to DRI

An email query sent to the chief executive officer of Mundra Adani Port remained unanswered.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
September 30, 2021 1:49:37 am
The DRI has arrested nine persons so far, including the proprietors of Aashi Trading. (PTI)

A SPECIAL court for Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) in Bhuj, Gujarat, has directed the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to investigate if the “Mundra Adani Port, its management and its authority gained any benefits” from import of about 2,990 kilograms of heroin seized by the DRI on September 16. The heroin was found in two containers that landed at Mundra port from Afghanistan via Iran, in the name of Aashi Trading Company of Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.

An email query sent to the chief executive officer of Mundra Adani Port remained unanswered.

“It is required to be investigated that what is the role of authority and officers of Mundra Adani Port while such consignment/ container was sent/ imported from foreign nation to India and landed at Mundra Adani Port and how management, authority and officer of Mundra Adani Port was completely under dark and oblivious about the fact of import of such consignment at Mundra Adani Port wherein contraband heroin of approximately 2,990 kgs was found and whether Mundra Adani Port, its management and its authority has gained any benefits from import of such consignment of NDPS substances in India,” Additional District Judge C M Pawar said in an order passed on September 26.

The court was hearing the remand application of one of the key accused, Rajkumar P, a resident of Coimbatore and the key accused who allegedly used WhatsApp to broker the deal between the Indian company and an Iranian exporter.

In its order, seen by The Indian Express, the court also asked the DRI to investigate “the modalities and the process for scanning and checking of such container and consignment at foreign nations and at Mundra Port when said consignment/ container was sent / imported from foreign nation to India and landed at Mundra Adani Port”.

The judge said the heroin seizure has raised “many issues” which should be investigated, including why the consignment was “registered and landed at Mundra Adani Port, Gujarat, which is far from Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh” that is surrounded by other ports like the Chennai port.

On September 16, the DRI Ahmedabad seized heroin from two containers at Mundra Port, which were declared as containing talc powder or “semi-processed talc stones”, originating in Afghanistan and loaded at Iran’s Bandar Abbas port.

The containers, sources said, were imported by Aashi Trading Company, registered in Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada, from a firm called Hasan Husain Ltd. The DRI has arrested nine persons so far, including the proprietors of Aashi Trading.

The court, in its order, said that in the last two years, the sea at Gujarat, especially the sea area of Kutch district, has become a hub for “importing/smuggling of contraband in huge quantities from foreign countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan”, running into crores of rupees.

The court stressed that the DRI should investigate all the aspects of the case booked by it against Aashi Trading, including the probe into the management and officials of Mundra Adani Port, even if other agencies are investigating the case. This direction was in response to the public prosecutor’s remark that other agencies are investigating the larger aspects of the case.

“In any case, it is the duty of the investigating agency (DRI) to make proper investigation and find out truth on all the aspects of case,” said the court.

Earlier the Adani Group had issued a statement on behalf of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) saying that a port operator’s role was “limited to running the port”. “APSEZ is a port operator providing services to shipping lines. We have no policing authority over the containers or the millions of tonnes of cargo that pass through the terminals in Mundra or any of our ports,” it said.

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