Niranjan Mali (23) embarked an AC III-tier coach of Konark Express from Berhampur Station in Odisha on Saturday. His destination: Pune. Apart from regular accoutrements, the resident of Naxal-hit Gajapati district was carrying two huge consignments of ganja.
To hoodwink security personnel, he had done himself up to resemble an army man, and was sporting a tracksuit. However, sleuths from the anti-narcotics cell (ANC) had already received a tip-off about contraband being brought to the city. Consequently, Mali and his associate Banmali Nag (37) were nabbed near Pune Station yesterday.
“We received information that a person was arriving in the city by Konark Express on Sunday with a consignment of ganja, which he was supposed to hand over to Nag. We arrested them while the transaction was taking place outside the railway station on Monday afternoon,” said assistant inspector Vinod Patil of ANC.
When questioned, Mali revealed that to avoid extensive security check by Railway Police Force (RPF) in sleeper coaches of trains, his Odisha-based supplier had booked an AC III-tier seat for him.
Patil said Mali was quite fortunate to not have been pulled up during the journey and he got off the train on Sunday night safely and stayed at a nearby hotel. He added that Mali worked as a courier guy, while Nag was the local contact who after receiving the drugs sold it among students, at local hotels etc.
Cops are now trying to establish who is the kingpin and supplier in Odisha, who supplies such huge consignments of contraband to city.
“We suspect that these two are connected with a Patil Estate-based fugitive drug lord Ali Saudagar,” added Patil.
An officer from the Crime Branch said it is a well-known fact that Naxalites have ventured into the drug smuggling business to raise funds for the movement. So the possibility that Nag, Mali and his Odisha-based supplier are working for some Naxal outfit in Odisha cannot be ruled out.