Investigators have stumbled upon a disturbing new crime trend: the terminally ailing,with few hopes of survival,are now being used as hitmen or drug carriers.
While the 2006 murder of Congress leader Pawanraje Nimbalkar,for which NCP leader Padamsinh Patil was recently arrested,is perhaps the most prominent such case,the Narcotics Control Bureau has come across several instances of AIDS or cancer patients being used to transport drugs.
Not afraid of being caught as they are already dying,such people see a way to help out their families by earning a large amount of money in the shortest possible time.
According to the CBI,Paras Jain who was held by them for the Nimbalkar murder is suffering from AIDS. He wanted money for his family before he died and was paid Rs 30 lakh to kill the Congress leader,allegedly by Patil.
In another case,for the first time,a Nigerian woman,Amaka Nuoyim (33),held in June 2008 after she was caught carrying drugs was deported at the Delhi High Courts intervention.
Nuoyim was booked under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. At the time of the arrest,it was not known that she was ill. However later,it was discovered that she was suffering from cancer. The cancer had spread to her pelvic region and she was being treated in AIIMS.
NCB officials urged the court not to take a lenient view as there was a growing trend of drug traffickers using terminally ill patients as carriers,and warned that letting Nuoyim go would encourage the drug mafia. However,on April 9,the High Court permitted Nuoyim to leave India on bail,saying: She cannot be cured of her sickness. Her death in the near future is a certainty. In this over-populated country to find a bed in a government hospital is difficult. We find it strange that a terminally sick foreign national is being kept in a government hospital and is made to occupy a bed. Nuoyim was deported from the country on April 23. The court instructed Ministry of External Affairs to stay in touch with Nigerian authorities on her health condition.
Calling the use of terminally ill for criminal rackets as very serious,an officer said: The terminally sick people also agree as they want to earn more and more money before they die. And even if they are caught,it does not matter to the drug mafia. Sources said there are about five to six terminally ill foreign nationals lodged in Tihar jail.
Coming down hard on the government on the issue,the court said: If the problem has been identified,a solution too has been found. Each ministry is washing its hands of the problem,by throwing the ball in the court of the other.
At the same time,the court passed an order asking government and various ministries to frame a policy guideline regulating the procedures to follow while issuing a visa to foreign nationals,especially in the case of those countries from where drugs are being pushed into India.