A 28-year-old man was arrested in Panchkula on Thursday with 3800 strips of anti-diarrhoeal medicine, which has an opioid salt in it. Police said that a total of 2.28 lakh tablets were seized from the arrested man.
The accused, identified as Krishan Kumar, a native of Badaun, Uttar Pradesh, but lived in Madhavala of Pinjore area of Panchkula, was nabbed by the police around 4.30 pm on Thursday from near the Sector 20 red light.
An FIR, filed by a police officer present at the spot, reads, “Around 4.15pm, when we were standing near a red light in Sector 20 on the Sector 12A slip road, we spotted a man get out of an auto coming from Zirakpur side. He was carrying two huge bags and a backpack which looked very heavy. As soon as this man turned around after paying the auto driver, he spotted the police and got a little nervous. He then picked up his bag and started walking in the other direction as fast as he could.”
It was after this that the police caught up with him and questioned him about his whereabouts and the bags he was carrying. “When asked about what he was carrying, he started panicking and could not give us a satisfactory answer,” the FIR reads.
The police then checked the bags he was carrying in his hands and found them stuffed with strips of Lomotil medicine. There were about 2200 strips in one bag and 1600 in another, with each strip having a total of 60 tablets weighing about 2.5 grams each. The third bag carried his clothes.
The district drugs control officer was then contacted by the policemen at the spot who then told the investigators that the quantity of medicines Kumar was carrying would fall under section 22 of the NDPS Act. Kumar was booked and arrested after that. He was produced before a local court that sent him to five days of police custody later.
Incidentally, in a similar case reported in 2016, all the arrested suspects had walked free as the court stated that the prosecution could not prove its case.
In the 2016 case, the suspects were caught with 45 pouches of Microlit Diphenoxylate Hydrochloride and Atropine Sulphate tablets containing 100 tablets each. A lower trial court of Panchkula had in February 2020 acquitted the accused after the prosecution failed to prove its case.
In the judgment delivered on February 17, 2020, the court of Additional Sessions Judge, Sanjay Sandhir, had acquitted both the accused stating that the case of the prosecution had become “doubtful”. The court, in its order, giving the accused the benefit of the doubt, had said, “The presence of the FIR number, before hand, at time of preparation of parcels before registration of FIR also raises doubt about the prosecution case.”
What is Lomotil?
Dr Aseem Mehra, Assistant professor of Psychiatry at PGI, who has co-authored a paper on the drug said that Lomotil was a very easily available over-the-counter drug.”It has severe abuse potential. Of the two salts it contains is Diphenoxylate, which is a form of mild opioid. Diphenoxylate produces effects similar to other opioids like afeem, smack, heroine etc. It is low cost and those unable to procure injectibles often opt for this as it is easily available.”
As per a PGIMER research paper of 2013, written on the Lomotil (Diphenoxylate) dependence in India, “In 41 cases studied, the number of tablets taken in a day varied from three to 250 (median 25). The reasons of initiation were to relieve withdrawals, as a cheap substitute opioid, curiosity, and on suggestion of friends.”
Lomotil was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1960s, as it is considered a weak opioid agonist with low abuse potential.