Union Home Minister Shah Flags Increase In Heroin Smuggling From West Coast

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday expressed concern about the increase in the smuggling of heroin from the West coast of the country.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday expressed concern about the increase in the smuggling of heroin from the West coast of the country.

Speaking at a meeting of the western region states on `Drug Trafficking and National Security in Gandhinagar, he also urged the governments of Maharashtra and Goa to play a "proactive role" in the fight against the drug menace.

In the last eight years, narcotic drugs worth Rs 20,000 crore were seized in the country, the home minister said.

"Smuggling of heroin from the West coast has increased, and we need to curb it. I congratulate Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, Gujarat Police, and Gujarat Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi for doing commendable work in stopping this activity by running several operations in coordination with central agencies,"  Shah said at the meeting.

While Patel was present on the dais, Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant, MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and Maharashtra deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis among others joined through video conference.

Goa, as well as Maharashtra governments, should play a "proactive role" in stopping the movement of drugs, the Union home minister said.

Nearly 12,500 kg of seized drugs were destroyed at two locations in Gujarat and Delhi as the meeting was in progress in Gandhinagar. Shah and other participants at the meeting watched a live telecast of the destruction.

"Various central agencies and the state governments need to work together...We should resolve to realize Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of a drugs-free India," Shah further said.

Asserting that the Centre's anti-drug operations are bearing fruit, he said when the `Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' celebrations began, the Home Department had vowed to destroy at least 75,000 kg of seized drugs in the first 75 days.

"But we have already destroyed 1,65,000 kg of drugs, that too before the deadline. Destroying such a huge quantity of drugs after taking permission from courts is a record in itself," said the Union minister.

He also urged the states to hand over the cases involving international or inter-state drugs networks to the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) or National Investigation Agency (NIA) "without any hesitation" for better results.

"You need to investigate the entire network. I have analyzed 100 cases and observed that a case was often closed after prosecuting an individual caught with drugs. We can destroy the entire network only when we adopt the approach of going top-to-bottom and bottom-to-top," said Shah.

To strengthen the NCB at the regional level, Raipur and Jaipur will get new zonal offices in addition to the existing ones while Ahmedabad will get a new regional office under a Deputy Director General, he announced.

He also urged the states to set up more fast-track courts to try drugs cases and said that senior officials should have greater involvement in the investigation.

Since drug smuggling through courier and parcel services has increased in recent times, Shah asked the participating states to put in mechanisms to scan parcels.

Drug seizures and arrests of drug peddlers and dealers have seen a significant rise since the Narendra Modi government came to power, he claimed.

"Between 2006 and 2013, 1,257 cases related to narcotics were registered and 1,363 persons were arrested. Against that, 3,172 cases were registered and 4,888 persons were arrested between 2014 and 2022. Similarly, against 1.52 lakh kg of drugs seized between 2006 and 2013, we have seized 3.53 lakh kg of drugs in the last eight years," he said.

The value of the drugs seized in the last eight years was Rs 20,000 crore, he added.

(Inputs from PTI)