Beyond the Aryan Khan Case: did India screw up its war on illicit drug trafficking?

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Call it what you like. While the Bombay Supreme Court corrected what many believed was wrong on Thursday by bailing actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son, Aryan Khan, in Mumbai’s drug-on-cruise case, another actor, Armaan Kohli, was waiting that his plea on bail was heard by the same court.

Armaan Kohli’s bail hearing was reportedly scheduled for October 27 in the Bombay High Court but could not be opened due to lack of time. On the other hand, Aryan Khan was released on bail on October 28 after three consecutive days of hearing by the Bombay High Court.

On August 29, Armaan Kohli was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) raided his residence in Mumbai. After the detailed order of the court of appeal to reject his plea came out on October 21, he had applied for bail to the Bombay High Court. Aryan Khan, arrested by the NCB on October 3, had moved to the Bombay High Court the day before.

In both cases the Detainees argued that the NCB had no “material” to post them. For its part, the NCB cited Panchnama or the testimony to build their cases against the two people with Bollywood connections.

Last year another actor Rhea Chakraborty was arrested by the NCB for drug offenses. She was released from custody after 28 days.

These cases have led many to ask a question: Did India screw up its fight on drugs?

That is a fair question. According to the World Drug Report 2021, India has become a major center of drug use. The report said India has also been linked to drug shipments sold in 19 major darknet markets between 2011 and 2020.

It highlighted that in India, which proudly boasts of being the world’s largest producer of generic medicines, prescription drugs and their ingredients are being diverted for recreational use.

The World Drug Report appears to confirm the results of a survey – Magnitude of Substance Use in India – conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in 2018. The report released in 2019 said that around 5 crore Indians reported having used cannabis and opioids.

The question of screwing up the fight against drugs is also legitimate as the authorities have been unable to figure out who is the biggest drug supplier in India? Drug suppliers are said to use the network of smugglers and traffickers, but when huge amounts of drugs come into India, who brings them all remains unknown.

INDIA ENCLOSED BETWEEN DRUG CRESCENT AND TRIANGLE

Two of the largest opium-producing regions are on the west and east flanks of India. They are loosely referred to as the Drug Crescent and Drug Triangle – for beneficiaries, they are the Golden Crescent and Golden Triangle.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran make up the crescent moon. the The Taliban’s success as a terrorist group in Afghanistan is largely attributed to drug trafficking.

Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos are referred to as part of the drug triangle. India is practically wedged between the crescent and triangle of drug producers. A large population and rising incomes make India a huge recreational drug market.

Recently, contraband goods worth Rs.21,000 billion were seized at a port in Gujarat. The authorities have yet to locate those responsible for smuggling such a large heroin shipment – almost 3,000 kg.

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LEGAL PROCEDURE

India began its fight against drugs back in the 1980s. In 1985 India passed the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) in order to fulfill its obligation as a signatory to international conventions, including those of the United Nations.

The next year the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) was established. Its mission is to combat drug trafficking and the use of illegal substances listed in the NDPS Act. It was amended three times in 1989, 2001, and 2014 to make the drug fight more robust.

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The NCB, under the direction of the Director General, has 12 zone offices and 13 sub-zone offices. The Mumbai District Office has recently come under scrutiny for allegedly “screwing up” the drug fight by attracting unwanted attention with its action against Bollywood celebrities.

GOVERNMENT ACTION

On June 26th, International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for stepping up the fight against drugs, saying, “Addiction is neither cool nor a style statement.”

Next month, during the monsoon session of Parliament, the Union’s Ministry of Interior, which reports to the NCB, informed Parliament that India had signed 26 bilateral pacts with various countries to combat the illicit trafficking of narcotic and psychotropic substances and chemical precursors (derived Ingredients) signed for the manufacture of medicines).

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In early 2016, the Union’s Home Office established the Narco Coordination Center (NCORD) mechanism for effective drug law enforcement.

An e-portal, SIMS (Seizure Information Management System), was launched in 2019 to digitize pan-Indian drug seizure data in accordance with the NDPS law. The National Fund to Combat Drug Abuse was set up to cover spending on combating the drug threat.

The government developed a policy to conduct the National Drug Abuse Survey to determine drug abuse status. A “Nasha Mukt Bharat” (Drug Free India) campaign was also launched.

HOW MANY DRUGS AND WHO BRING THEM?

According to a July 2021 report published by statista.com, the gross value of drug and narcotics trafficking in India was between Rs 350 and 450 billion between 2012 and 2019. But the main players in this illegal business have evidently withdrawn from the NCB.

In December 2020, the NCB arrested a Mohammad Azam Jumman Shaikh in connection with the Rhea Chakraborty case and confiscated 5 kg of charas from his property. The raid was carried out by Sameer Wankhede, the NCB’s zone director in Mumbai. According to an NCB official, Shaikh was reportedly one of the “largest” narcotics suppliers – an indication that real big drug players are staying out of the NCB’s reach.

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