Dangerous mix

A  recent haul of 26 kg of heroin valued at Rs 130 crore in the international market from near Chandigarh is indicative not only of the spreading use of narcotics in the region but also of possible involvement of important personalities in illegal narcotics trade. The seizure was made in two districts near Chandigarh.

The haul was not a rare incident, because a number of such seizures have been made in the recent past. But the size of the haul is very huge. There have also been frequent reports of the increasing use of drugs in the region, especially by students and youngsters. What is also a matter of particular  concern is the reported involvement of  police and other law enforcement authorities in the apparently thriving business of drug trade.

At least seven persons, including a former shot putter and now an NRI who is considered to be the kingpin of the racket, and a police officer and national level boxer Ram Singh, have been arrested. Part of the contraband was recovered from the house of an Arjuna awardee wrestler who is also a former police officer. Ram Singh’s disclosures to the police have led to suspicions about the involvement of a Haryana boxer and DSP, Vijendar Singh, who won a bronze medal for the country in the 2008 Olympics. Ram Singh is a friend and sparring partner of Vijender and was his room mate at NIS, Patiala. He has said that he and Vijender have met the leader of the racket and have consumed the drug a few times. There is also the suspicious circumstance of the car of Vijender’s wife parked near the NRI’s house.

Vijender has denied any involvement but has not cooperated fully with the investigation. Though he is being questioned there is suspicion that his alleged links may not be pursued seriously, because of his standing. This will be wrong. Some other sportspersons in the past have also been found using performance enhancing drugs and have even been suspected of involvement in drug trafficking. Whenever charges are made, those involved should get stringent punishment. On Monday a decorated IPS officer, who was director of Punjab regions’s narcotics control bureau, was convicted and sentenced to 13 years’ jail for heroin trade. One more case is pending against him. That shows the extent of the trafficking network in the region.

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