Updated: October 8, 2021 10:17:26 pm
Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal on Friday demanded that a special investigation team (SIT) monitored by a Supreme Court panel should investigate the seizure of a large quantity of heroin from the Mundra port at Kutch in Gujarat.
Addressing a press conference in Rajkot after visiting Kaba Gandhi no Delo — Mahatma Gandhi’s primary family home in India until 1915 — Badal said the world’s largest heroin consignment was intercepted at Mundra port in Kutch in Gujarat but the BJP government at the Centre has not issued any statement about the case. The Congress leader, citing ‘media reports,’ claimed the heroin consignment weighed 25,000 kg and that its value was Rs 1.75 lakh crore.
“The world’s largest ever drug haul seizure — 25,000 kilogrammes of heroin — has been seized from the Adani Mundra port. Its street-value is estimated to be Rs 1.75 lakh crore. While it is good that this consignment has been seized, the question is how many such consignments got cleared? Were the Narcotics Control Board, DRI, ED, CBI, IB, Home Ministry asleep?” he said.
“Such large consignments are being seized and I fear there is a huge conspiracy to trap youth of India into intoxicants. Those who bring such consignments to India are the enemy of the country. When so much money is flowing out of India, and it has been proven that international terrorism is financed by drug money, our internal security is also under threat. Therefore, we in Congress seek answers. They (the Centre) must issue some statement. The investigation should be done by some SIT monitored by a committee of the Supreme Court,” Badal said.
Badal’s demand comes a day after the Union Home Ministry transferred the case from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) — which had incercepted the consignment — to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
On September 11, the DRI had intercepted two containers after they landed at Mundra port run by the Adani Group following intelligence that heroin was being smuggled through that cargo consignment. Official imports documents declared the two containers were packed with 40 tonnes of semi-processed talc stones originating in Afghanistan. However, tests by the Forensic Science Laboratory in Gandhidham confirmed that 2988.21 kg of heroin was concealed beneath layers of talk stones in the two containers and that its estimated market value was around Rs 21,000 crore.
The DRI investigation has revealed that the consignment was imported by using the import-export licence of Aashi Trading Company, a proprietorship firm registered in Andhra Pradesh. The consignment was supplied by Hasan Hussain Limited, a private firm of Afghanistan run by one Hasan Hussain and was sent to India via Bandar Abbas port in Iran.
The DRI later conducted raids across a few states and seized more heroin, taking the total haul to more than 3000 kg. DRI had also arrested Machavaram Sudhakar and his wife Govindaraju Durga Purna Vaisali, residents of Chennai. The agency has said that Aashi Trading Company is a proprietorship firm registered in Vaisali’s name and bears her parents’ Vijaywada address as its official address. Subsequently, DRI also arrested one Rajkumar P, a resident of Coimbatore. All three are presently in judicial custody.
Badal said why an Andhra Pradesh firm should want its cargo to land in Gujarat and not in Andhra Pradesh should also be instigated, and sought to know if any politician is involved in the case. “The Andhra Pradesh firm got only Rs 10 lakh as its commission (for importing the consignment). But I would like to draw your attention as to why the consignment imported by an Andhra Pradesh company did not land at any port in Andhra Pradesh but at a port in Gujarat? There should be some answer to this, this should also be investigated thoroughly,” he said. “Is there any politician’s hand in this drug haul case?”
When it was pointed out that abuse of narcotics was a menace in Punjab and asked to what extent the Congress government there had succeeded in containing it, Badal said that the supply of drugs was a conspiracy by Pakistan to avenge the liberation of Bangladesh by weakening the youth of Punjab.
“In terrorism, 36,000 civilians and 8,000 policemen were killed in Punjab in 10 years. Drugs is also part of the same conspiracy to weaken Punjab. But we are focused on curbing this,” he said.
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