College students are savvy enough to discreetly hide their drug consumption outside college campus when they see a cop. But, a person dressed like just another college student is bound to pass unnoticed. Taking a cue from that, the Anti-Narcotics Cell (ANC) formed several police squads and swapped their khaki clothing for jeans and T-shirts. The move has resulted in 15 college students being fined for consumption of drugs in the past two weeks.
Disguised cops caught the students — mostly from prestigious south Mumbai colleges and one suburban college — who were either consuming or buying narcotics on the streets. The crackdown has also led cops to nab around 125 people who were caught red-handed with drugs around various educational institutions.
“Recently, our officers arrested students from prominent colleges. Some were let off with a warning, but others were produced in court and fined Rs 20,000 for consuming charas filled in cigarettes,” said a police officer from ANC, on condition of anonymity.
According to a senior police official, they specifically requested their younger cadre to grow their hair, and dress informally to blend in with college students. Employing such novel tactics, the ANC unit of Azad Maidan — headed by police inspector Sunil Kawalekar and under the guidance of JCP (Crime) Himanshu Roy yesterday arrested African Erri D Jesuse Khi (32), a resident of Malwani, Malad, opposite Metro Cinema, Dhobitalao. Cops believe that Khi was headed towards a prominent college, as he has many buyers there.
“We confiscated around 150 grams of cocaine from him, which costs around Rs 9 lakh in India, and around Rs 90 lakh in the international market,” said a police officer from ANC.
The ANC has also started rounding up drug addicts that usually roam outside colleges. On Monday, police rounded up around 52 drug abusers for consuming charas and other substances. They were all produced in court and fined Rs 1,500 or sentenced to 15 days in custody.
Besides spreading a dragnet around colleges and schools, ANC officers have also been visiting educational institutions to spread awareness on the ills of substance abuse. So thrilled are institutions with the cops’ tidying up act, that they have sent letters brimming with praise for the police.
The Headmaster of Sir Elly Kadoori School, Mazgaon, wrote, “Your staff members, PI Kavalekar, PI Gaikwad, PSI Kakad have given a lecture to our students on anti-narcotic substances which was very valuable. Our committee members, teachers and students liked the seminar… so many students have gained knowledge about these substances. We are thankful to you and your staff members.”
Another letter by the Principal of Akbar Peerbhoy College of Commerce and Economics reads, “We are thankful that your department acknowledged our request to remove elements involved in narcotics. We are especially thankful to the Azad Maidan police who have inspected our college, as well as visited our college.”
“Our priorities are schools and colleges, and we are trying our best to keep a check on peddlers who sell drugs to students, as they are the future of our country,” said DCP Vinayak Deshmukh of ANC.
The dangerous drug route
According to an ANC officer from Ghatkopar unit, Kharghar, Nerul, Malwani are areas from which charas has been coming into the city, while cocaine is supplied from Mira Road, Nallasapora, Masjid Bunder locales. Cocaine comes from Mexico, Brazil and Nigeria while charas mostly comes from Afghanistan, making its way to Rajasthan and from there to Chennai. Chennai has become the hub for storing drugs that are then supplied to Mumbai and Delhi.