Friday, January 09, 2015

How Pakistan's Dealers Drugged Punjab: Smugglers In Border Paid To 'Conceal & Clear' Heroin Consignments?

It is not just terror that is being exported from across the border. The scourge of drug trafficking in Punjab has been growing due to the easy availability of drug couriers, digging of tunnels, insertion of pipes through border fencing, and well-knit syndicates including transnational criminals running the racket from jails. 

The Border Security Force (BSF), in a detailed report to the Union Home Ministry on drug trafficking in Punjab from beyond the borders, has explained the functioning of well-organised drug cartels. 

The border guarding force was prompted to submit a report to the Home Ministry after the Punjab  government slammed it for not cracking down on the drug mafia that continues to smuggle drugs from Pakistan. 

The ruling Shirimoni Akali Dal government in Punjab has blamed the BSF for the drug menace in Punjab that has been growing due to drug trafficking from Pakistan. 

The border guarding force has also said that it’s not smuggled drugs that are solely responsible for the drug menace in the state. According to the BSF report, heroin and opium, the two drugs most smuggled, contribute to only five per cent of the substance abuse in Punjab. 

According to the BSF, there are plenty of couriers in border villages and they are being paid up to Rs 60,000 per kg and a well-organised syndicate ensures that drug consignments are “concealed and cleared”. 

The BSF has also admitted that for years people along the border have been part of the drug network but little has been done to rein in these elements. 

“There is a third generation of smugglers and couriers operating on the Punjab border. For a majority of them, this has become a hereditary profession,” the report says. 

The BSF has communicated that local authorities are not of much help in identifying people who are part of drug cartels. 

Sources say since there is a good network of couriers ensuring smooth clearance of consignments from the border areas, the kingpins are never nabbed. 

“Synthetic drugs are freely available in border areas of Punjab. They can be purchased from chemists or local vendors,” the report says. 

The BSF has explained the modus operandi and functioning of cartels that are pumping drugs from across the border. 

The use of Pakistani mobile phones by Indian smugglers and vice versa to deceive intelligence agencies is one method being used to evade security agencies.

“SIM cards are frequently changed to hoodwink surveillance. Indian smugglers use Pakistani SIM cards and Pakistanis use Indian SIM cards. Transnational criminals contact each other from within and outside jails also,” the BSF report states. 

Continued drug smuggling has resulted in the youth in Punjab falling prey to the menace in large numbers. Of late the issue has created a political stir in the state, with the Enforcement Directorate questioning Bikram Majithia, a minister in the Akali government and brother-in-law of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal. 

The state government in return has put the blame on BSF. Sources say the BSF has decided to give a detailed report to the Home Ministry listing the steps taken by the force and at the same time identifying the weaknesses in the mechanism to curb the drug racket. 

“Non-availability of pucca (concrete) roads along the International Border in Punjab, suitable observation posts and obsolete infrastructure for border flood lights” are some of the factors put out by the BSF that make it difficult for them to crackdown on the menace. 

The BSF has requested the Home Ministry for powers of technical surveillance for mobile and telephone interception since most of the drug deals are communicated on the phone. 

The force believes that mobile interception will provide instant and concrete information and help in launching special operations. 

The BSF has also listed several measures taken by the force to curb drug smuggling. 

Effective domination of the border, using hi-tech surveillance equipment and upgrading the intelligence network along with better coordination with other agencies are some of the areas the BSF is working on to counter the menace.

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