Narcotics menace in Central Guwahati: cops raid four hubs in the city
Central Guwahati, of the three police districts under the Guwahati Police Commissionerate, has emerged as a hub for narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances prompting the police to pull up their socks once again.
City police have identified at least eight hot spots in the area where rampant peddling of narcotics, especially opium-based and synthetic drugs, is taking place.
Four such raids have been conducted by the city police in Noonmati, Jyotikuchi of central Guwahati and Kotabari of West Guwahati.
In the Noonmati raid at Bishnu Rabha Nagar on February 12, police nabbed an ex-cop’s son Minkumoni Deka aka Maina, 36, and recovered 10 grams of unadulterated heroin worth Rs 1 lakh in the open market. In Jyotikuchi, a joint operation of city police with the Crime Investigation Department (CID) resulted in the arrest of one Ripan Bardhan from whom 8 grams of heroin, six laptops and Rs 1.5 lakhs was recovered.
Acting on leads suspected to be based on the earlier arrests, the crime branch had, on February 15, arrested two others - Alia Begum and Hafijor Ali and recovered about 500 grams of brown sugar, an adulterated form of heroin, a few pieces of gold and silver jewellery and Rs 1.5 lakhs cash.
“These raids were part of an ongoing process of planning. Now, we have a map of the hot spots where narcotic products are sold and purchased. We also have identified the suspected peddlers and kept them under close watch. The moment we get inputs regarding their activities, we will raid to catch them red-handed,” Ranjan Bhuyan, deputy commissioner of police for central Guwahati told G Plus.
This would be the second major drug bust in the city after 2016 when Assam Police had launched an anti-drug operation throughout the state and arrested about 50 persons - 35 from Guwahati - and recovered contraband substances worth more than Rs 7 crores.
Assam narcotics scenario getting grimmer
In 2016, Assam Police had recorded the highest number of cases under the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act over the last decade.
It showed a threefold rise in cases from 121 registered in 2006 to 386 cases registered in 2016.
This has been the result of the rise in smuggling of foreign cigarettes and synthetic drugs into the state. The trend also showed that besides the constant supply of traditional contraband items like ganja and cough syrup from across the border through Manipur and Myanmar, smuggled synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine from the states of Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra are also making its foray here.
“The number of NDPS cases has been constantly going up in the last decade. Since 2011, every year over 200 cases have been registered across the state. The number soared to 251 in 2013. In the following years, the numbers came down slightly to 210 in 2014 and 217 in 2015. But it peaked last year,” official records said.
"Tablets containing ephedrine and pseudo ephedrine are illegally transported from Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh to Manipur and then smuggled to Myanmar. From here, they go to the infamous Golden Triangle (Afghanistan, Myanmar and Thailand). In the illegal factories of Myanmar, they use ephedrine and pseudo ephedrine to prepare party drugs like WY, Yaba, Speed and Devil's Dust," said an anti-vice cell official.
Recent investigation revealed that a liquid form of heroin has also been smuggled into the state from Arunachal Pradesh. The drug is believed to come from the bordering areas of China.
Assam DGP, Mukesh Sahay, said the department, under its forward and backward linkage process, has already contacted the police of Bihar, Punjab and Haryana in the west and Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur in the northeast after the recent drug hauls in the state.
Delving on the forward and backward linkage process, Sahay said, “It is a routine we follow whenever we seize some contraband substances. We try to find out the origin of the substance or whether it is coming to our state or going out. Based on that, we inform the concerned state and launch coordinated operations in the respective states.”
“At times it is difficult to identify the channel of the substances from the statement of the apprehended addict or peddler and we go by the nature of the substances to find their origin,” Sahay said.
“According to our information, the contraband substances have come from these states. So we have informed the police department of those states. We will be in coordination with those states in order to thwart the supply channels,” Sahay said.
Types of contraband:
Narcotic drugs: This includes drugs that are mostly synthesised from natural source and induces awareness, sleep, acts as muscle relaxant and causes other behavioural changes. Heroin, cocaine, brown sugar, morphine, others that are opium-based and marijuana/hashish etc fall under this category.
Psychotropic Drugs: These are the artificially synthesised drugs that affect the brain and nervous system to induce psychiatric changes. Prescription psychotropic drugs are used for psychiatric patients. This includes lifestyle drugs such as LSD, ecstasy and other methane-based chemical drug such as methamphetamine and mephedrone aka meow-meow and various forms of ephedrine such as WY, yaba, speed and devil's dust.
Substance abuse: These are spirit-based or other forms of relaxants that are used in other substances but inhaled or consumed for intoxication. These include adhesives, polishes and removers which have high content of spirit.
Narcotics such as brown sugar, cocaine and heroin come mainly from Myanmar to India through Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram. Drugs enter Assam mostly through the Moreh (Manipur)-Dimapur (Nagaland) route and also from Mizoram through Barak Valley (the most preferred route in recent times). Synthetic drugs come from Punjab and other northern and western states through Cooch Behar in Bengal. A part of brown sugar also comes from Bihar.
Under the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act: Possession below 10 grams carries a six-month jail term and fine of up to Rs 10,000. Possession of more than 10 grams but below 1 kg carries 10-year imprisonment and Rs 1 lakh fine while above 1 kg between 10-20 years in jail with fine between Rs 1 - 2 lakhs depending on the amount.
Over 50 people were arrested in 15 days in Assam. A task force, headed by additional chief secretary TY Das, was constituted to monitor and check peddling as well as rehab of addicts. Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) had conducted operations at Gaya in Bihar and Rae Bareily in Uttar Pradesh on basis of information provided by suspected drug dealers in Assam. ULFA (Independent), led by Paresh Barua, had warned action against the drug mafia and sought information on those involved in drug trade.