Drugs– free India,’ a determination in this Amrit Kaal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make our country free from drug menace needs to be applauded. To move forward this determination of a drugs free nation, Home Minister Amit Shah devised India’s strategy to destroy and uproot the drugs network in order to secure the younger generation and launched a scathing attack on the finance of narcotic terrorism.
The Ministry of Home Affairs adopted a three–pronged strategy of zero- tolerance policy against drugs. This includes strengthening the institutional structure, empowerment and coordination of all NARCO agencies and extensive awareness campaigns.
Under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, there has been emphasis on strengthening and accountability of the system. The Ministry of Home Affairs has made continuous efforts for institutional restructuring and strengthening of legal provisions for narcotics control and elimination. For better coordination and synergy, a four-tier NCORD mechanism was strengthened in 2019 with NCB as nodal agency. Indian Navy, Coast Guard, Drugs Controller general, National Maritime Security Coordinator, NTRO, Port Trust, Coastal Police and State Police have been included in this coordination mechanism for smooth functioning of war against drugs.
Countering Drugs and Terrorism
In the recently concluded Interpol General Assembly, Shri Amit Shah raised the issue of links between narcotics and terrorism. He proposed real time information sharing amongst all the anti-narco agencies of the world. At the No Money for Terror (NMFT) conference, he highlighted the importance of international cooperation on cracking down on narco-terror finance focusing on the strategy of trace, target and termination. India has so far signed numerous MoUs with different countries on real time information collaboration and security corporation.
“Our Government has a zero-tolerance policy towards the issue of drugs. Those countries promoting terrorism in our country are using the profits from drugs for the same. The presence of this dirty money also gradually hollows our economy” — Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Parliament
Money earned through drugs have been routed for terror funding across the world. Evidence has emerged in many drug-related investigations in India that drugs money has been pumped to finance terror organisations in many parts of the country, including Jammu & Kashmir. Many extremist organisations in the North East were also financed by drug syndicates until the recent past. The alarming truth is that, barring a few, most of the extremist organisations of North East are directly or indirectly involved in drug trade in the region. The narcotic menace is a borderless problem, so it is necessary to have a better conducive environment and cooperation among all drugs law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies with a purpose of corporation, coordination and collaboration. To make the performance of the Government effective, as reiterated by the PM and Home Minister, emphasis on inter-departmental coordination has been stressed and enforced. Security agencies like NIA, BSF, Assam Rifles, and Indian Coast Guard have been empowered under the NDPS Act. The Home Minister directed all States to form a dedicated Anti Narcotic Task Force (ANTF) headed by an ADG or IGP level officer. So far 35 States and UTs have dedicated ANTF. Special campaign launched to prevent smuggling of drugs by sea routes. As 60 to 70 percent of drugs are smuggled mainly through the sea route the Indian Navy, Coast Guard and Port authorities were made active participants in the anchor mechanism. As a result after 2014, the drugs seized have increased by almost 185 per cent and more and more cases are registered against drugs dealers and traders. The value of the seized drugs, during 2014 to 2022 is Rs 97, 000 crores against 33,000 crores during 2006 to 2013.This shows how seriously the current Government is running the war against drugs in India with zero tolerance against drugs approach. More than 523234 numbers of drug traders and peddlers were arrested across the country during 2014-2022, as against 162908 arrests made during 2006-2013. This is a 220 per cent increase.
Zero Tolerance Against Drugs
North East was once a safe route of drug trafficking to other parts of India. Huge quantities of drugs and contrabands coming from the India-Myanmar border were safely transported to different parts of India. Thousands of youth in States like Manipur, Nagaland, and Assam were victims of drug menace. But after 2014 the war against drugs in the region was given a new pace by the Central Government. Home Minister Amit Shah initiated zero tolerance against drugs policy in the region and the war against drugs 2.0 underway in the North East since 2019. He chaired several Chief Minister-level meetings in NE to mobilise the operation against drugs. As a result, the region is benefiting from the collective approach to combat the drugs racket. In the last one and a half years in Assam alone, drugs worth Rs1050 crores were seized by the police and security agencies. More than 7,000 drug traders and peddlers were arrested in Assam alone. All the routes through which drugs were smuggled to Assam and other parts of India were almost sealed by the security agencies.
Drugs are seized in small or large quantities across Assam on a daily basis. States like Manipur are also doing tremendous work in the war against drugs. So far drugs valued at Rs 4,040 crore have been seized by the security agencies in numerous anti-drugs operations. 2,536 drug mafias and peddlers were arrested in connection with drug menace in the State. Over 1,930 cases registered in the past few years and commendable progress have been achieved by the police in the investigations of these cases. Chief Minister N Biren Singh said that various communities and Civil Society Organisations have been “very supportive” in the ongoing war against drugs and the government has also set up an Anti-Narcotics Task Force to intensify the operations.
A New Strategy
As Amit Shah termed it as Death triangle, the notorious Golden Triangle represents the region coinciding with the rural mountains of Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand. It is Southeast Asia’s main opium-producing region and one of the oldest narcotics supply routes to Europe and North America. With a 1643 km long border with Myanmar, India has been at risk for the longest time, even before the emergence of the Golden Crescent. States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, and Nagaland share their border with Myanmar. Drugs including opium, heroin, methamphetamine and many more are smuggled from Myanmar into the North East region. Also, drugs illicitly cultivated in India travel through the same route for trade. Drugs produced in the ‘Golden Triangle’ enter India through Mizoram, Manipur, and Nagaland from Bhamo, Lashio, and Mandalay in Myanmar. The route bifurcates and one channel moves Northwards through Moreh in Manipur while other moves southwards to enter Champai in Mizoram. Moreh (Manipur), Champai (Mizoram), Dimapur (Nagaland), and Guwahati (Assam) have become the nucleus of drug trafficking industry in India’s northeast. But after the intensifying war against drugs rackets by the Central Government, drug smuggling to the region has been curved to a large extent in recent years. Most importantly finance to the insurgency groups of North East from drugs money has been reduced by a large extent.