Governance

Drug trap

Anil Tyagi
Vol. XIV September 2021

For the last three decades India has become a transit hub as well as a destination for heroin and hashish produced in the ‘Golden Triangle’ and the ‘Golden Crescent’. In addition, various psychotropic and pharmaceutical preparations and precursor chemicals produced domestically as well as in various parts of the world are also trafficked through Indian territory.1 The two-way illegal flow of these drugs and chemicals not only violates India’s borders, but also poses a significant threat to national security. The nexus between drug traffickers, organised criminal networks and terrorists has created a force powerful enough to cause instability in the country. Money generated through drug trade has been used to fund various insurgent and terrorist movements. For instance, it has been estimated that money generated from the illegal sale of narcotics accounted for 15 per cent of the finances of militant groups in Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly, Sikh militant groups in Punjab and Northeast insurgent groups like the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) [NSCN (IM)] are known to channellise drugs into India to finance their operations. Besides, criminal syndicates engaged in drug trafficking like the Dawood Ibrahim gang have themselves resorted to terrorist acts in the past (the 1993 terrorist attacks in Mumbai) or have become deeply engaged in the business/logistics end of terrorism. Further, drug trafficking facilitates other organised criminal enterprises such as human trafficking and gun running, all of which use the same networks and routes to smuggle people, arms, and contraband. To cite an example, the explosives used in the 1993 Mumbai terrorist attacks were smuggled into India using the same routes through which drugs and other contraband items were trafficked by the Dawood gang. Even terrorist groups use these routes to source weapons and explosives across the borders.

The country’s proximity to two of the world’s largest illicit opium growing areas as well as various external and internal factors have contributed to it becoming a transit source, and a destination for drugs. The trends and patterns of drug trafficking in the country demonstrates that there is a gradual shift from traditional/natural drugs towards synthetic drugs that are being trafficked and consumed in the country. In the 1980s, a large quantity of heroin and hashish was smuggled in from the source areas into the country through various borders. While these drugs are still trafficked, though in lesser quantities, the share of synthetic drugs such as ATS and codeine based pharmaceutical preparations has gone up tremendously. Persistence of drug trafficking over the years implies that the sanctity of the borders is being breached and their security compromised. Various studies and newspaper reports indicate that drug consumption and trafficking are in fact showing an increasing trend. To deal with the problem of drug trafficking and to protect the country’s borders against such infringements, India has employed a mix of measures. On the one hand, it has enacted stringent anti-drug laws, co-opted various voluntary organisations and sought to strengthen the physical security of its borders by various means, on the other hand it has been seeking the cooperation of its neighbours and other countries through several bilateral and multilateral agreements. These efforts have only been partially successful in dealing with the problem. Sometime in this kind of tedious issues, a nation finds itself trapped with greedy operators, whose aim is to fill their coffers, defying and ignoring  the health of a generation.

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