Prithvi Highway becoming a route for drug trafficking

- HARIHAR SINGH RATHOuR, DHADING

Feb 21, 2019-

On February 10, three Indian nationals were held in possession of 360 kgs of hashish in Gajuri, Dhading, along the Prithvi Highway. The contraband was being smuggled to India from Kathmandu in a container truck with Indian registration number (SR 55 M 9484). The hashish was seized during a security check at Gajuri Bazaar. Truck driver Om Prakash of Uttar Pradesh, Morpal Barma (assistant driver) and Gulab Khan of Bihar were held with the hashish, said the police. According to the police, the confiscated hashish is the largest bust of illegal contraband this year.

In another incident, truck driver Satyandra Singh Beghal, of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, and his assistant driver, Lal Mohammad Gaddi, of Sonbarsha-5, Parsa, were arrested with 235 kgs of hashish from a container truck with Indian registration plate (HR 38 S 9371) from Gajuri on January 3. Acting on a tip-off, a police team seized the hashish from the vehicle. The police had intercepted the truck while it was returning from Kathmandu.

On December 15, 2018, four persons were arrested in possession of illegal firearms and a huge cache of cannabis from Owang village in Benighat of Dhading. Gunja Bahadur Ghalan of Icchha Kamana Rural Municipality, Chitwan, along with Thulo Kancha Tamang, Sano Kancha Tamang and Bir Bahadur Tamang, of Benighat Dhading, were arrested with 570 kgs of marijuana and muzzle-loaders from their residences. Though they were sent to prison for drug trafficking, police investigators could not identify whether they were the kingpins of the cannabis smuggling racket or just

carriers.

The Narcotic Drugs (Control) Act 1976 mandates punishment of 15 years to life imprisonment and slaps fines of up to Rs 2.5 million to individuals found involved in narcotic drugs.

The pattern of arrests and investigations shows that only carriers are being indicted in most drug smuggling cases. Raj Kumar Baidawar, Superintendent of Police, said that one Gulab Khan, who was arrested with 360 kgs of hashish on February 10, had been in the business of carrying contrabands across the border for a long time. Police units stationed near the Prithvi Highway in Dhading have been arresting vehicle drivers and drugs carriers frequently.

Within the last three years alone, the police have seized 812 kgs of marijuana, 1,046 kgs of hashish, and 547 ampoules of illegal pharmaceutical drugs. Ninety-two people have been held in possession of contrabands. Despite the frequent arrests, the police are yet to find a link to the kingpins of the smuggling business.

The District Police Office in Dhading has launched a special plan to curb the rampant drug trafficking business. “We are planning to conduct awareness programmes in villages where farmers cultivate marijuana. We are also talking with the local units to seek their collaboration in the campaign,” said SP Baidawar.

People still plant marijuana for commercial purposes. Locals of Kiranchowk and neighbouring areas, including Bhumesthan, Baireni, Tasarpu, Pida and Mahadevsthan have been traditionally farming marijuana for commercial purposes. And despite police campaigns, villagers are still found to be engaged in farming marijuana. Rajendra Basnet, an official of the Network on Right to Food Dhading, said that because the locals in these villages have been farming marijuana for a long time now, to make them aware about its misuse will take more time. Experts said that they have to find out alternatives and engage farmers who rely on marijuana farming for livelihood in other income generating programmes.

Published: 21-02-2019 10:17

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