The C Times, 26th June 2017, Agartala: Bodhjungagar police have seized phensedyl worth 5 lakhs from an Alto car near the bypass. According to a report the Alto car bearing no. TR-01-Y0207 was speeding heavily from bypass to GB when it suddenly collided with an electric pole near the bypass. The locals rushed to the spot and found the car loaded with many phensedyl bottles. Bodhjungnagar police led by SDPO Dhruva Nath reached the spot upon receiving the news and seized the car. The driver was identified as Liton Miya, a resident of KalikapurSonamura and taken into custody. According to his statement, e was on his way to Sonamura to deliver the consignment.
Despite a ban on movement of codeine based cough syrups, Tripura, surrounded by Bangladesh from nearly all sides, is among the preferred state by smugglers to illegally send it across the fence to the neighbouring country. Northeast Today reports on what could be a pan national smuggling operation.
Seizure of Bangladesh bound banned contraband bottles by BSF mostly in and around capital Agartala is a regular event and this year already within the first ten days two such incidents of seizures where huge quantity of contraband bottles were recovered.
During 2016, the Border Security Force (BSF) seized contraband of cough syrup bottles amounting to around six crores. The amount may seem small but when imagined in the number of bottles it is huge. The seizure of large number of contraband, considered to be the tip of a large iceberg, has raised severe questions on the vigilance deployed across our national highways. These consignments generally cross four to five states by surface transport before entering Tripura and it is only the BSF which is successful in stopping the smuggling.
In the first seizure this year, the BSF in a joint operation with Tripura police found banned cough syrup bottles worth Rs 25 lakh hidden in a warehouse in Indranagar area of capital Agartala. Two persons have been arrested in connection to the seizure. The contraband consisting of banned Phensedyle and Corex bottles were found hidden in packets of shoes and umbrellas in the storehouse. Superintendent of police (SP) of West Tripura district, Abhijit Saptarshi said two persons have been arrested, one is Narayan Kumar who is the driver of the vehicle registered in Delhi and he is from UP. The other one is the manager of the godownApu Chakraborty. According to him the consignment was meant for being smuggled out to Bangladesh.
Within one week of the incident BSF has yet again seized 29,700 bottles of Phensedyle and Eskul Cough Syrup having market value of about Rs 28 lakh hidden under onion sacks brought in a truck with Nagaland registration. The owner and driver of the truck HaradhanPawanbashiDatta, a resident of Nagpur, Maharashtra was apprehended and according to him the consignment was loaded from Indore in Madhya Pradesh and was to be unloaded in the Maharajganja Bazar, the main market of Agartala.
These incidents of smuggling are a matter of concern for the state authority. In March 2016, the Health Ministry, ensuring safety and efficacy of medicines had banned around 350 fixed dose combination (FDC) drugs that were widely available in the market. These medicines include FDCs based on codeine, used in popular cough syrups like Phensedyl and Corex. The government has decided to prohibit manufacturing and sale of these medicines because they were found to be ‘irrational’ without any therapeutic efficacy and use. Also, in some cases, there were concerns about misuse of such medicines considered unsafe for mass consumption and moreover, Bangladesh has also been regularly pressing India for banning these cough syrups. These incidents have brought to the notice of the authority that despite the ban there are large rackets running fake companies which are continuing the production of the contrabands and transporting them to northeastern bordering state including Tripura for sending across the border.
Recently, Director General of Tripura Police K Nagaraj during the annual press conference could not explain that how in spite of police checking in the national highway these large vehicles could reach Tripura along with the banned medicines and it was only the BSF that has been sometime successful in apprehending a few. The DGP had to face the wrath of many journalists as it was viewed that there is a serious failure of intelligence or that may be a nexus between police and those involved in smuggling.
Though the average price of a bottle of contraband like Phensedyle is less than Rs 100, each bottle in Bangladesh fetches between Taka 600 to 700 which is used as substitute to liquor. Four Northeastern states – Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Assam – share a 1,880-km border with Bangladesh, some of it unfenced and running through dense forests, making it porous and vulnerable.
A huge drug racket has been operating in the state for the past few years with the help of police, pharmaceutical shop owners and top govt. officials. Many cadres of CPIM party are also involved in this game. The CID’s narcotic department of Tripura has been a major failure in curbing drug abuse and trafficking in the state. The drug consignments are entering into the state through Churaibari check post with the help of police personnel posted there. Huge percentage of Drugs are also trafficked to Bangladesh from sabroom and sonamura area because of their proximity to border. Most of the medical shops in agartala and other towns like udaipur, sabroom, khowai, kailashahar and dharmanagar are openly selling phensydyl and spasmoproxyvon tablets (pain killers). The police and concerned authorities are just mute spectators as there is a huge nexus between the drug lords and them.
It is high time that youths should be made aware of the consequences of drug abuse and trafficking should be checked. The state govt. should wake up from deep slumber and take stringent steps to combat the menace of drugs. It is also the responsibility of the Society to keep a vigilant eye on anti-social elements, including drugs and alcohol, so that the coming generations can be free from such kinds of social evils, Otherwise the day is not far when the state will turn into a necropolis.