Reported by Tapas Das
Bhubaneswar, Jun 17:
Inter-state drug dealers have turned many of the slums in Odisha’s capital city into brown sugar trafficking hubs.
In the absence of stringent action by authorities, a few Bengali men with Bangladeshi connections are running this business in the city. Brown sugar packets are available for as little as Rs 100 in slums around Haladipadia, Bharatpur, Dumduma and Old town.
Haladipadia slum, where the cops were attacked recently, has become the hub of the illegal brown sugar business in the city.
We discovered that a man driving a Scorpio car usually delivers the brown sugar consignment to a lady named Gema, who runs a betel shop in the Haladipadia slum. She sells it directly from her shop. The same Scorpio driving man also delivers brown sugar to his agents in Bharatpur, Dumduma and Old town. The drug traffickers are also trying to expand into airport area and the Kargil slum, sources privy to the racket say.
The investigation revealed that women and children are used by the racketeers to avoid the prying eyes of the police. While kids are usually stationed at the entrance of the slums to guard against police raiding parties, women do the selling to avoid police attention. Women keep low quantities of contraband with them and sell them to prospective buyers upon hearing a codeword. They are quick to hide the stuff inside their underwear, if the kids blow the whistle alerting them about approaching cops.
The drugs are usually brought to the city from Balasore via Chhatia.
While there are six departments – Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), State Excise Department, Central Customs Department, Central Excise, Coast Guard and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) – authorized to take action against this, none of them has acted decisively against the racket so far.
Some of the cops are paid a fat share of the revenue generated by the racketeers to look the other way and tip them off on possible raids. No wonder not a single man has been arrested so far for selling or possessing illegal drugs in the city.
While we tried to speak to the Narcotics Control Bureau on their landline number 0674-2475531, we received no concrete answer from them.
“Those who sell brown sugar in the city keep very small quantities of the stuff with them. They easily manage to hide the 10-20 gram contraband they have when we raid. This is the reason we have not been able to arrest the sellers,” said Inspector of Excise Department Debi Prasad Dash.
Commissionerate Police Chief Rajendra Prasad Sharma, however, preferred to stick to numbers than realise the ground realities.
“Commissionerate Police didn’t even register a single case during 2011-12. After I joined here in 2013, we registered one Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) case. In 2014, we had registered seven NDPS cases and this year we have registered three such cases so far,” said Sharma.