Chandigarh: With controversy over the censoring of ‘Udta Punjab’ grabbing headlines, even those who are masters of brushing things under the carpet can’t bury their heads to avoid Punjab’s drug problem anymore.
For a long time, the political corridors of both New Delhi and Chandigarh have either willfully denied its existence or have raised doubts about its scale. But now Hannibal has crossed the Alps. And while Punjab doesn’t grow opium or weed, it does consume drugs worth Rs 7,500 crore a year.
Golden Crescent – they call it. It’s the route through which the drug cartels enter India; mainly Punjab. The clandestine land routes of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan collectively constitute the Golden Crescent, also called the silk route of drugs. Heroin, poppy husk, opium, and synthetic drugs are the four kind of drugs entering India. In fact in 2015, BSF killed 7 smugglers and intruders and seized 344 kg heroin alongside Pakistan border in Punjab. In 2014, 361 kg heroin was seized by BSF.
The Afghan Route
From being one of the most dangerous places to live in, to the largest producer of opium, Afghanistan is a land where everything is shrouded in mystery. Afghanistan grows 90 percent of world’s opium and if 2014 estimates are anything to go by, Afghan farmers grew opium on a whopping 244,000 hectares.
According to various intelligence reports, Pakistan willfully supports the drug peddlers and suppliers. Punjab shares a 550 km long border with Pakistan and despite strict placement of Border Security Force (BSF), drugs still enter India. Porous border which includes rivers, canals and drains is hard to monitor and a complete freeze on smuggling is difficult to achieve.
The Iran Route
Heroin is the addict’s favourite drug in Punjab and nearly 53% of the addicts in the state consume it. International drug rackets use the Golden Crescent to smuggle the drug into India as well as other countries in South Asia from the entry point in Iran.
It is said that Iran also used to smuggle drugs in to the middle-east. Once cartels of heroin enters the supply chain, it follows the same route that opium does.
The Rajasthan Route
India’s border with Pakistan in the state of Rajasthan is also used for smuggling in drugs. Border here is even longer than in Punjab and poppy husk and opium are making their way into the country.
Border in Rajasthan aren’t porous and therefore these can be easily monitored. But the smuggling still takes place. Once across the border, the drugs reach Punjab via road passing through Rajasthan and Haryana.
Golden Crescent isn’t the only route through which drugs enter India. The Golden Triangle which constitutes Myanmar, Laos and Thailand is bane of eastern border from where drug are making their way into India. Apart from these, smaller routes like Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan also exist from where small scale smuggling takes place.
India’s coastline has also been quite vulnerable to drug smuggling and the possibility of drugs entering the country from here can’t be denied.