Drugs continue to haunt the Kashmir Valley as heroin worth Rs 105 crore and a huge cache of arms and ammunition were seized near the Line of Control at Chamb (Akhnoor Sector) in Kashmir. Intelligence agencies say the drug money was to fund terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). A joint operation by the Army and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in Kashmir revealed that terrorists are bringing drugs into Punjab, and the money raised funds militancy in Kashmir.
As of late, the separatist insurgencies that have got India rocking once again, the states of J&K and Punjab have proven to be potent threats. According to the Times of India, the DRI Ludhiana zonal unit and the Indian Army’s 15 Punjab Battalion carried out an operation near the Line of Control (LoC) at Chamb (Akhnoor Sector) in Kashmir. This led to the seizure of a huge cache of arms, ammunition and drugs including heroin. A high ranking officer told TOI that “We found a strong connection between the terrorists operating in the Valley and drug traffickers of Punjab. The terrorists are facilitating the movement of drugs from across Pakistan to Punjab by acting as couriers. And the money being paid by the drug traffickers of Punjab is used by terrorists to fund the purchase of sophisticated weapons to inflict terror in Kashmir.”
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said this was not the first time for drugs to be pushed into the state from Kashmir. “The Indian Army had earlier found strong evidence of links between Kashmiri terrorists and drug traffickers in Punjab.” He said the state was working closely with central agencies to tackle the drug traffickers. “We will not allow our youth to be destroyed by drugs.” Singh also said that he was personally monitoring the situation.
DGP Mohammad Mustafa, the anti-drug special task force chief highlighted Pakistan’s role. “No one can deny that Pakistan is focused on pushing drugs into Punjab.” In regards to the usage of the drug money, he said: “whether the drugs are supplied to Punjab or another state, the money yielded from such activity can be used for carrying out terror activities anywhere.”
Where are the Drugs Actually From?
As per a study by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) at AIIMS, opioids worth Rs7,500 crore are consumed in Punjab every year; of this heroin alone constitute a massive Rs6,500 crore. Though authorities continue to point at Pakistan for Punjab’s drug menace, there is no substantial proof as of yet. They have to get to the main source. And it will most likely be Afghanistan. Its southern province of Helmand that shares a border with Pakistan, has a maximum area under opium cultivation, making it easy to pump opiates into Pakistan and from there into the rest of the world.
And it should be noted that the drug smugglers probably enter into India via the unfenced riverine stretches, which officials say is about 80 to 90 kilometers long. Three years ago, 2015, Afghanistan alone supplied the world with 90 per cent of the heroin. According to South Asia Monitor, though the bulk of opium drugs are destined to reach Europe and America via Iran and Central Asia, a substantial amount of the heroin gets smuggled into India via Pakistan. “The Afghan heroin that reaches Pakistan is primarily for the domestic market. But besides supplying for local consumption, large quantities of drugs are destined to India through Punjab, Kashmir, Rajasthan and Gujarat.”
The authorities should note that rise in demand in Punjab has increased heroin smuggling from across the border. And the rise in Punjab’s drug problem is attributed to decades of political and institutional negligence.