“Today searches were conducted at five places, including residential premises and godowns at Lajpat Nagar, Alipur, Khera Kalan in Delhi and Noida in Uttar Pradesh in connection with the seizure of semi processed talc stones with contraband drugs imported by M/s Aashi Trading Company. During searches, various incriminating documents, articles and items were seized by NIA,” an NIA statement said.
This is the second search conducted by the NIA in the case. It had on October 9 conducted searches across the country.
The case is related to the seizure of 2,988.21 kg of heroin at Mundra Port, Gujarat, by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) on September 16. The case was transferred to the NIA on October 6.
The heroin was found in two containers, which were declared as containing “semi-processed talc stones”, that landed at Mundra Port from Afghanistan via Iran’s Bandar Abbas Port in the name of Aashi Trading Company of Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.
The NIA said it had registered a case in the matter following an order from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. Besides sections of the IPC and Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, the NIA has also invoked Section 17 (punishment for raising funds for terrorist act) and Section 18 (punishment for conspiracy to commit terror acts) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The NIA FIR has named Machavaram Sudhakaran, Durga P V Govindaraju and Rajkumar P as accused among others. “Pursuant to registration of the case, requisite actions as per law for expeditious investigation of the case have been initiated,” NIA said in a statement.
Sudhakaran and Govindaraju, a Chennai-based couple, own the company which was shipping the contraband. Govindaraju is the proprietor of the firm M/s Aashi Trading Company, registered in Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada, that was importing the talc from a firm called M/s Hasan Husain Ltd. Rajkumar, from Coimbatore, worked in Iran and was allegedly “coordinating with foreign suppliers”.
Till date, nine people have been arrested in the case, including four Afghans and an Uzbek national, according to a release issued by the Press Information Bureau (PIB). All the arrests have been made by the DRI. The Narcotics Control Bureau and the Enforcement Directorate are also probing the case.
Last month, a special court for NDPS in Gujarat directed the DRI to investigate if the “Mundra Adani Port, its management and its authority gained any benefits” from the import of the consignment.