New nexus! Pak picks J&K for big drug push
Terror is an expensive business, and narcotics are a moneyspinner. Hence, an unholy 'union' was inevitable. A sudden spike in smuggling of heroin into India through the Jammu and Kashmir route is being seen by anti-narcotics and security agencies as an attempt by Pakistan to sponsor narco-terrorism.
In the last one-and-a-half year, more than 80% of drugs seized in Jammu and Kashmir were smuggled in from Pakistan, officials with the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) the and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) told Mail Today. "Over 200 kg of heroin from J&K was seized between August 2017 and January 2019. Most of it was smuggled through the International Border," an official said.
Rajesh Nandan Srivastava, Deputy Director-General, NCB, admitted that there was an increase in the amount of heroin and other narcotic substances being smuggling in through Jammu & Kashmir. Earlier the route was Punjab, he said.
Debi Prasad Dash, the Principal Director-General of DRI, said, "In Kashmir, most of the heroin is coming from Pakistan. Recently, with the help of the Army, we have seized a huge quantity of heroin at the Line of Control."
"Also, the recent seizures have proved the nexus of narcotics and terrorism. The money generated from drugs is used for funding terror, arms and ammunition," he said, adding that the shift from Punjab to Jammu and Kashmir was a clear indication of this.
NCB officials told Mail Today that the Ramban-Banihal National Highway, one of the two road links between Kashmir and mainland India, has turned into a major route for the drug mafia - which has connections to Pakistan-based smugglers.
"Afghan-grown poppy is first smuggled into Jammu and Kashmir, after which it is dispatched to Punjab through locals working as drug mules," said an NCB official not wanting to be named.
The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) Report-2018 also mentions India being the "transit country for illicitly produced opiates, in particular heroin, which originate in Afghanistan and are trafficked through the country via Pakistan en route to Europe and North America (mainly Canada)".
"The route used by traffickers to smuggle opiates through South Asia is an alternative part of the so-called 'southern route' which typically runs through Pakistan (or the Islamic Republic of Iran) and, via the Gulf countries, continues to East Africa and on to the destination countries," the report said.
In a major crackdown on Pakistan-based narco-smuggling racket, Jammu and Kashmir police seized 'brown sugar' worth Rs 80 crore in north Kashmir's Kupwara district on January 30 this year. Preliminary investigations suggest the 'brown sugar' was supplied from Pakistan.
Acting on a lead, the J&K police intercepted a Tata Sumo vehicle and arrested two persons, Zameer Ahmad Raina and Riyaz Ahmad Badan, with 19 kg of narcotic substance from their possession.
A senior official in J&K claimed that only 20 to 25 per cent of the drugs being smuggled into the state were from Punjab, while the rest were being pumped in from across the Line of Control and the International Border.
Last year in July, former Jammu and Kashmir DGP, S.P. Vaid, had said at a press conference that contrabands were smuggled into the state by Pakistan-based smugglers with the sole aim of paralysing future generations. "India has always remained an easy target for Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence as it is located between the Golden Crescent and Golden Triangle - the two areas notorious for illicit opium production. Pakistan's intelligence agency has ties with smuggling syndicates and uses them to push narcotics into India from J&K and Punjab," he had said.
Police sources told Mail Today that efforts are mounting from the other side to smuggle drugs into India. "We are conducting our operations in the interior areas to track down the mafia," said an officer involved in the operations.