Gujarat: 3,000kg of Afghan heroin seized from Adani-operated port
Nearly 3,000kg of heroin originating from Afghanistan was seized from the Adani-operated Mundra port in Gujarat on September 16, officials announced on Tuesday.
The drug haul drew attention for multiple reasons.
⚫ Valued at Rs 15,000 crore, the 3 tonnes of contraband are said to be the single largest such consignment netted anywhere in the world in recent memory.
⚫ The consignment found its way to India during the chaos that followed the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban. With an eye on the Uttar Pradesh elections, the Right-wing ecosystem has been dog-whistling and whipping up fears about drugs from Afghanistan swamping India with the help of “anti-national” criminals. But the seizures underscore the fact that drugs have been flowing to India even before the Taliban found their feet in Afghanistan, and the doomsayers will now be hard put to explain how such a big consignment entered India through Gujarat where the BJP is entrenched in power for years.
⚫ The huge haul has thrown up another question: why has Gujarat become the most preferred gateway to India for drug smugglers. The Congress cited several instances and pointed out that the post of a full-time Narcotics Control Bureau chief had been lying vacant for 18 months. The Enforcement Directorate has now launched a money-laundering probe into the Gujarat haul.
⚫ The seizure coincides with a raging controversy in Kerala about “narcotics jihad” — cited by a bishop to suggest that Muslims are luring Christian youths with drugs — that has driven a communal wedge in the southern state.
Those arrested so far in connection with the Gujarat haul are a couple whose names — M. Sudhakar and his wife Durga Vaishali — suggest crimes are not confined to any particular religion. Some Afghans are also involved, PTI quoted official sources as saying.
⚫ The lukewarm reaction of the government-friendly media also caught the attention of many. Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted: “59 grams of marijuana found in a WhatsApp chat conversation had led to near heart seizures of TV newstainment anchors. Surprised to note that 3000kg of heroin found has not had the same result. Clearly these newstainment channels outrage also depends on their Sarkar ki seva.”
In a statement, the Adanis congratulated the investigators for seizing the drugs and said no port operator in the country can examine a container. “We sincerely hope that this statement will put to rest the motivated, malicious and false propaganda being run on social media against the Adani Group…. We have no policing authority over the containers….”
The 2,988.21kg of heroin was seized by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) from two containers at the Mundra port in Kutch district.
The narcotics were headed to Delhi and the two arrested persons had sought an import-export licence based on a house address in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.
The containers had been declared as containing semi-processed talc stones from Afghanistan and had been shipped from the Bandar Abbas port in Iran to the Mundra port.
The couple, who were arrested in Chennai and brought to Bhuj in Kutch, run an importing firm called Aashi Trading Company.
The Congress said the responsibility lay with the central government. Party spokesperson Pawan Khera said at a news conference: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is from Gujarat, home minister Amit Shah is from Gujarat. How come the Gujarat coast has become the most preferred route to smuggle in drugs? This consignment was meant for Andhra Pradesh, which also has ports. India has a huge coastline. Why was this sent to Gujarat?”
Khera added: “The matter of concern is that the seizure wasn’t done through a coordinated plan of agencies, it was just a routine inspection by the DRI. Is this the tip of an iceberg? Is it that 10 such consignments passed before this was caught? Why was the surveillance network not strengthened after regular seizures in Gujarat?”
“The consignment of 3,000kg of heroin is perhaps the largest such batch seized anywhere in the world. In fact, over the last few years, the Gujarat coast has become the favourite route for smuggling drugs into India from Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. In July 2017, an Indian Coast Guard vessel had seized approximately 1,500kg of heroin valued at about Rs 3,500 crore from a merchant vessel off the coast of Gujarat,” Khera said.
The Congress spokesperson added: “In January 2020, five Pakistani nationals on a fishing boat were apprehended mid-sea off the coast of Gujarat while they were attempting to smuggle in drugs worth Rs 175 crore. In April 2021, eight Pakistani nationals onboard a boat were apprehended with heroin worth Rs 150 crore off the coast of Gujarat. On September 17, 3 tonnes of heroin were seized by the DRI at the Mundra port — a privately owned port of the Adani group in Gujarat’s Bhuj.
“On September 18, again, the Indian Coast Guard and the anti-terrorism squad of Gujarat police in a joint operation on an Iranian boat found 30kg heroin worth more than Rs 150 crore off the coast of Gujarat.”
Asking what steps the government and the Narcotics Control Bureau had taken after the alleged spurt in drug smuggling through Gujarat, Khera said: “How is such a drug syndicate operating in India under the nose of the Government of India, government of Gujarat and the Narcotics Control Bureau? Who are these operators, importers and individuals/syndicate running the procurement and distribution network of drugs in this country? Why is the NCB misused for retail politics when the international mafia have established a network for drug distribution in the country?”
Additional reporting from PTI