Polls and snowfall hit Mumbai's drug supply
The upcoming elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, snowfall in Kashmir and increased vigilance on the borders has led to an acute shortage of drugs in the city.
Officials of the Anti-Narcotics Cell (ANC) revealed that minimal inflow of substances like charas, heroin, opium and ganja had led to the prices of available stock skyrocketing, even quadrupling in some cases, in the past few months.
According to ANC officials, the price of heroin, usually sold at Rs 10 lakh per kg, has gone up to Rs 15 lakh while charas has seen its price rise from Rs 1 lakh per kg to anything between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 4 lakh per kg.
“The city has hardly ever witnessed such acute shortage of drugs,” an ANC officer said on condition of anonymity. “With no stock available, the addicts are resorting to cough syrups and whiteners, which are easily available in medical shops.”
ANC sources revealed that the price of the much costlier drug cocaine had largely remained unaffected as it is smuggled in from South America via plane or cargo.
Everyday, the city consumes 1 kg to 2 kg of cocaine, more than 25 kg of charas, 10 kg of opium, more than 600 kg of ganja and around 2 kg of heroin.
With the shortage of heroin, charas, ganja and opium, the one option that remains is cocaine, but it comes at a hefty price of around Rs 6,000 for a gram. The other, cheaper options for seekers of such illegal pleasures are cough syrups and whiteners.
ANC officials said increased security in poll-bound Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, from where a lot of drugs are sent to the state, and tight patrolling by the Border Security Force (BSF) along the border with Pakistan and Bangladesh following 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Qasab’s hanging had had the benefit of confiscation of a lot of drugs. They also said that any contraband entering the country through Kashmir was not moving on since snowfall had blocked the Srinagar-Jammu highway.
Security has been beefed up in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, where elections are due. While charas is grown in Himachal, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and parts of Nepal and Afghanistan, it is sent to the state mostly through Gujarat. It is stored in godowns in Bhayendar, Vasai, Virar and Nashik.
“As there are the elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, security has been beefed up in these states and most vehicles are checked by the police, especially if the registration is not from these states,” an ANC source said. “This has made it difficult for peddlers to bring in drugs.”
Himachal charas arrives in the state via Delhi, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
BSF on guard
The BSF has also tightened security along the borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh because of the fourth anniversary of the November 26, 2008, terror attack on the city and also because after last month’s hanging of the sole captured 26/11 terrorist, Qasab, various terrorist organisations in Pakistan had said they would take revenge with an attack.
“If the BSF so decides, nothing can come into the country,” an ANC source said. “Mostly charas, heroin and opium from Afghanistan come in via the Pakistan and Bangladesh Borders.”
The Srinagar-Jammu highway is usually the only route available to send anything to the rest of the country from Srinagar, and the road is down because of snowfall. This has cut off Srinagar.
“In future, as the snowfall increases, the procurement problems of peddlers will increase and prices here will rise,” an ANC source said.