NIA takes over Mundra drug haul case, invokes terror charges

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The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday took over the Mundra Port drug haul case, in which 2,988.21 kg of heroin was seized at Mundra port, Gujarat, by the Directorate of Revenue last month.

The Narcotics were disguised as consignment of ‘semi-processed talc stones’ originating from Afghanistan. The consignment had arrived from Bandar Abbas Port, Iran.

The NIA on Wednesday said it had registered a case in the matter following an order from the Ministry of Home Affairs. The NIA has not only invoked sections of IPC and the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act but also Section 17 (punishment for raising funds for terrorist act) and Section 18 (punishment for conspiracy to commit terror acts) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

“Given that the drugs originated from Afghanistan where the Taliban are ruling now, there is an angle of narco-terrorism linked to the whole affair. The case has international ramifications and that is why it has been given to NIA,” a home ministry official said.

The NIA FIR has mentioned Machavaram Sudhakaran, Durga PV Govindaraju and Rajkumar P as accused, among others.

“Pursuant to registration of the case, requisite actions as per law for expeditious investigation of case have been initiated,” NIA said in a statement.

Chennai-based Sudhakaran and Govindaraju own the company which was shipping the contraband. Govindaraju is the proprietor of M/s Aashi Trading Company, registered in Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada, that was importing the talc from a firm called M/s Hasan Husain Ltd.

Rajkumar, from Coimbatore, worked in Iran and “was co-ordinating with foreign suppliers”.

Till date, nine people have been arrested in the case. Four among these are Afghans and one is an Uzbek national. The total seizure has gone up to 3,004 kg, as per a release from the Press Information Bureau (PIB).

All the arrests have been made by the DRI. Parallelly, the Narcotics Control Bureau and the Enforcement Directorate are also probing the case.

The September 16 seizure is said to be one the single-biggest hauls in India, worth over Rs 21,000 crore.

A special court for Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in Gujarat recently also directed DRI to investigate if the “Mundra Adani Port, its management and its authority has gained any benefits” from the import of the consignment.

The court had asked the DRI to investigate “the modalities and the process for scanning and checking of such container and consignment at foreign nations and at Mundra port when said consignment/container was sent/imported from foreign nation to India and landed at Mundra Adani Port”.

The judge also said the heroin seizure by the DRI has raised “many issues” that should be investigated, including why the consignment was “registered and landed at Mundra Adani Port, Gujarat, which is far from Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh”, that is surrounded by other ports like the Chennai port.

 

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