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Home > Sunday Mid Day News > Diary of a drug lord

Diary of a drug lord

Updated on: 21 January,2024 06:37 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Reet Mulchandani |

He started using when he was 16, and by 19 was selling to students, friends and gangsters. A first-hand account of what keeps him addicted despite run-ins with cops, mental health lows and stints in rehab

Diary of a drug lord

AQ doesn’t want the 9-5 job, and wants to be “big” in life, like the Wolf of Wall Street. Pic/Shadab Khan

It is sometime in September. A 19-year-old, bespectacled AQ wakes up on a single mattress—the only furniture in a room he doesn’t recognise. His clothes are changed, he doesn’t know what time it is or where he is. The only ventilation is through a narrow slit that functions as a window. He breaks down. Then he gets hysterical and bangs on the door. After about half an hour, the door opens. The guard calmly informs him that he is in rehab and to not act up. 

“They clap thrice. If you don’t wake up, they hit you,” says AQ, whose first brush with drugs came in Class  11 when a friend offered him hash. “It was just what you did,” he says with a shrug. Everyone around him was using. Within a short time, as he got addicted, his weight dropped from 75 kg to 55 kg. 

Soon, he was selling to support his addiction: To friends, classmates and their friends. It was good money, and fast. Besides, it made him cool. 

Slowly his network grew, and so did business.

Diary of a drug lord

What had started off with buying 60-rupee weed packets from Bandra talao and re-selling them for Rs 200-250 each turned into selling OGs (Original Gangster, a potent strain of marijuana), Ecstasy, LSD, shrooms (mushrooms). Within three years, he peddled to a major chunk of Bandra and also to Lonavala, Nashik and Malegaon. 

The heady years were marked by numerous run-ins with the police, a falling out at home, a suicide attempt and a half-murder case.

The first time he got caught, AQ was in Kandivli. He was smoking up with his ex when a policeman caught them. A search uncovered eight acid papers on AQ’s person. The cop let the girl go, and took AQ with him. When a traffic light brought them to a halt near Thakur college, AQ jumped off the bike and bounded off. Even as the policeman shouted “Chor, Chor!”, AQ managed to hail a cab from Borivili. He got home and went to sleep. After that, the police didn’t scare him as much. 

“Without them, none of this would be possible,” he says. “They are all involved too. Besides, I was a minor, so they couldn’t really do anything.” Money, he says, can get you out of anything. 

There were only two run-ins with the police that left him rattled. The first was during a WhatsApp bust as they looked into actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide and the alleged drug angle. While he wasn’t involved, he knew those who were. 

Business scaled back as everyone was forced under ground. 

But that wasn’t the only reason he thought about a new kind of life. “Our school allowed us to watch only two movies, one was MS Dhoni: The Untold Story. We grew up watching Sushant,” he says, still a bit affected. The second time was when a gang war broke out in Bandra. “We were leaving when I realised I’d dropped my specs. So we went back,” says AQ. The rival gang was still at the location, and amidst some confusion, he hit a man pointing at him. Later he found that was a detective in plain clothes.

As he sat in the back of the police van, his sole thought was of relief that he was the only one arrested, and not his friends. However, just as they were about to leave, his gang climbed in. Even more people showed up at the police station later. After some back and forth, they were made to pay a fine and let off. That night, was the first time he tried to kill himself. 

Police are not the only ones he had to watch out for. Although there does exist a certain camaraderie among dealers, there is always a risk of being double crossed. “Stocks get stolen a lot,” AQ says, “But what are you going to do? Go to the cops?” 

He had a run-in with a Nashik-based gangster, who was a major buyer. “I used to source 100 to 200 gm of Methamphetamine  for him at about Rs 900 per gram, and he would sell it for Rs 2,000 per gram,” he says. “Things went south when during one drop, he kidnapped AQ’s then girlfriend. He wanted to get the stash for free and was trying to extort more. “There was nothing I could do,” he says helplessly, “he was always surrounded by people with guns. They tortured her a bit, but she was smart and tipped off the police.” They found her after a whole day and night. The gangster was charged with illegal possession of firearms, while the woman was set free. 

For the good part of two years, AQ and his girlfriend worked together. She would get him out of scraps with the police, and help him make contacts. At his peak, he made R30 to 35k a week, with most of his clients being college students. 

After they broke up, he faced his first setback. His best friend too, had left the country. He was operating all alone.

“I was in a very bad spot mentally,” he says, “Probably the worst I had ever been. I couldn’t get out of bed.” Business was low until he decided to put all his energy into it. Slowly, he scaled back—made more connections; saved more money. Soon, he hit a new peak but his mental health hit another slippery slope. 

“I was very frustrated at the time, and lashed out at home,” he says. He decided to step away and go to rehab. He entrusted his entire stock to his 18-year-old brother, who with some help from friends, kept the chain going. 

For the next two-and-a-half months, AQ had no contact with the outside world. “It was worse than jail,” he recalls. “We were given two meals a day, and five beedis; and medicated twice. We never found out what drugs they injected into us; they could have just been sleeping pills. If anyone tried to escape, they were tied to a wheelchair for 13 days. And the authorities made us hit the inmates who tried to run away, so that the rehab centre could not be accused of mistreatment. If we didn’t hit the other inmates, they’d hit us.” 

When his mother and brother came to see him, he begged them to get him out. They obliged, and he decided he would never go back to that life. He was done. 
But a few days later, he met a friend and they smoked up. The circle was reignited. 

What does the future hold? “More hustle, getting my investment back. That’s why I’ve taken up a job,” says AQ, “But I don’t like it. I don’t want to be trapped in the matrix, doing a 9-to-5 and earning only Rs 35,000 per month.” 

His goal, he says, is to be big. Like his inspiration, The Wolf of Wall Street.

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