NCB being used for ‘retail politics’ even as drug syndicates are operating right under govt’s nose: Congress
Referring to seizure of 2,988.21 kg heroin at Mundra port in Kutch district, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said Gujarat coast has become "favourite route" for smuggling narcotic drugs into India
The Congress on Tuesday attacked the Centre over the seizure of nearly 3,000 kg of heroin worth thousands of crores of rupees at the Mundra port in Gujarat and asked how such a drug syndicate was operating in India "under the nose" of the government as well as the Narcotics Control Bureau.
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized 2,988.21 kg heroin worth Rs 15,000 crore from two containers at the Mundra port in Gujarat's Kutch district and subsequently, arrested a couple that runs an import firm from Chennai, officials said on Tuesday.
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera also questioned the government over why the position of a full-time Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) chief has been lying vacant for 18 months now and alleged that the NCB had been reduced to play "retail politics" with BJP's rivals.
“Why is Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, who are from Gujarat, unable to break this drug syndicate,” Khera said.
He alleged that smuggling of drugs into India has increased substantially over the past few months, and this has been going on for a few years now.
"This not only can destroy the present and future of the youth of India, but it is the potential funding route for the funding of terrorist organisations globally," he said at a media briefing at the party's headquarters in Delhi.
The latest raid and seizure of almost three tonnes of heroin from Mundra Port -- owned by the Adani Group -- is among the largest illegal drug hauls in the world, not just in India, Khera said, claiming that the contraband was worth Rs 21,000 crore in the international market.
"But, how did it come to this? What has the government and Narcotics Control Bureau been doing all this while?" he said.
Khera claimed that over the last few years, the Gujarat coast has become the "favourite route" for smuggling narcotic drugs into India from Pakistan, Iran or Afghanistan.
He cited various instances of drug seizures off the Gujarat coast to claim that it had become the "favorite route" for smuggling:
He gave the following instances:
July 2017: An Indian Coast Guard vessel had seized approximately 1,500 kgs of Heroin valued at about Rs. 3,500 crores from a merchant vessel off the coast of Gujarat.
January 2020: Five Pakistani Nationals on a fishing boat were apprehended mid-sea off the coast of Gujarat while they were attempting to smuggle drugs worth Rs. 175 crores into the state and country.
April 2021: Eight Pakistani Nationals onboard a boat were apprehended with heroin worth Rs. 150 crores off the coast of Gujarat.
September 17, 2021: Three tonnes of Heroin was seized by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) during an operation where two containers were seized at the Mundra Port – a privately owned port by the Adani Group in Bhuj of Gujarat. The value of the Heroin is estimated to be around Rs. 21,000 Crores.
It is suspected that this heroin was originally sourced from Afghanistan and was imported through Iran’s Bandar Abbas Port.
September 18, 2021: The Indian Coast Guard and the Anti-Terrorist Squad of the Gujarat Police in a joint operation on an Iranian Boat found 30 kg Heroin worth more than Rs. 150 crores off the coast of Gujarat.
Khera posed several questions to the government over the issue of drugs smuggling:
1. Why has the Gujarat coast become the most preferred route to smuggle in Drugs?
2. Are these revelations just the tip of the iceberg? Is this an instance of 10 consignments being let go and one being caught just to show that the agencies are working and to ensure ‘perception management’?
3. When there has been a pattern of drugs being smuggled into India through the ports of Gujarat, why has the Government and NCB failed at taking corrective and proactive measures?
4. How is such a drug syndicate operating in India under the nose of the Government of India, Government of Gujarat and the Narcotics Control Bureau? Why has it not been exposed yet?
5. Who are these operators, importers and individuals / syndicate running the procurement and distribution network of drugs in this country?
6. It has been 18 months now, why does the NCB not have a full time Director General yet?
7. Why NCB is misused for retail politics when international mafia has established its network for drug distribution in the country?
8. Does this Government not care about the well-being and future of the Youth of India?
9. Among all the ports along the Indian coastline, why has it been Gujarat, that has been the favourite route for these drug smugglers? What has the Government done to thwart this?
10. Why has there been no comprehensive action to expose the global drugs syndicate and its collaborators within the country?
11. In view of disturbing developments in Afghanistan, What is the Government’s strategy to deal with the smuggling of drugs, counterfeit currency and illegal weapons into India?