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7 drug peddlers, vehicles in net

Seven people were arrested late on Friday with 3kg of ganja from Sultannganj, around 28km west of Bhagalpur and 195km east of Patna.

Senior superintendent of police of Bhagalpur, Rajesh Kumar, said on Saturday that the police had been tipped off about the drug.

They seized three cars and recovered contraband worth Rs 20 lakh in the market.

He claimed the smugglers were caught at Sultanganj with the marijuana, which they had acquired from Odisha.

There is a heavy demand for the contraband among pilgrims ahead of Shravani mela, starting mid-July.

During the mela, lakhs of kanwarias (saffron-clad pilgrims) arrive at Sultanganj to collect water from the Ganga in kanwars on their shoulders and walk 105km barefoot to Deoghar to offer the water to Lord Shiva.

The pilgrimage continues for a month, during July-August. According to Hindu mythology, after Lord Shiv consumed poison during samundra manthan, he came to be known as Neelkanth.

To this day, devotees offer Ganga water to Shiv during this month. And, since ganja is believed to be a favourite of Shiv, many of these pilgrims, too, take a little bit. Kumar said of the seven arrested drug peddlers, six hail from Bhagalpur and one from Munger, and all of them work for one Ranjit, a native of Sonvarsa Raj under the jurisdiction of Bihpur police station in Naugachia.

The arrested persons were grilled and said they had their networks in Odisha and Bengal.

Two of the arrested persons Md Pappu and Md Sunny used to work at a garage in Bhagalpur before they were lured into this profession two years ago.

District magistrate Prem Singh Meena told the reporters that preparations for the Shravani mela have already begun but did not give any details.

Though it is not clear whether the government has geared up to tackle the expected spurt in drug sales during Shravani Mela, looks like the drug peddlers have already begun operations for the approaching season.