Pradeep Pattanayak

The pilgrim town of Puri is fast turning into a haven for the drug mafia. 

Reason: The police are, instead of cracking whip on the narcotic syndicates, allegedly looking the other way. 
In order to find out the veracity of the allegation that the drug mafias rule the roost, OTV team carried out a recce of some places that have earned notoriety for such activities.

The team members didn't have to struggle hard to come across the mafias. Their attention automatically got driven towards the terrace of one house. Some youths were sitting on it. The scenes unfolded the very next moment gave them away. 

Some youths entered into the scene. They stretched their hands to give something, most probably money, to the youths on the house top. In turn, they handed them some packets, presumably, drugs. After receiving the packets, the customers left the place, putting on an appearance, suggesting as if butter would not melt in their mouths. 

Then the team visited Urban Haat area near Puri Zilla School. The drug peddlers here clandestinely sell all sorts of narcotics: Brown Sugar, Corex, Nitrogen 10 and the list goes on. And do you know who are their customers? They are targeting tourists and local youths.

Local people alleged the drug smugglers are thriving due to the police being lenient towards them. "Instead of coming hard on the drug mafias, in most cases police is willingly looking the other way. The Superintendent of Police should take stringent action in this regard," said Chakradhara Mohapatra, a social activist. 

The drug trade is flourishing in Jagannath Slum, Markandeswar Sahi, Gokha Sahi, Kumbharpada and several slums near the sea beach. Investigation revealed that as per the requirement, drugs come to Puri from West Bengal via Balasore and Bhadrak. And the entire trade is being handled by some dealers in Puri and  Bhubaneswar.  The drug trade at Urban Haat area is going on for 12 long years.

 Meanwhile, police have arrested many drug dealers. But the arrests have little impact on the drug mafia. Their business is still going on unaffected. 
Puri MLA Jayant Sarangi expressed his concern about this flourishing illegal trade. 

"It is true that drug mafias have stricken their roots in the holy city. I will take the matter up with the police administration. Earlier, I had had a discussion with them. The Superintendent of Police (SP) had also told me that they have taken the matter seriously. The situation is going from bad to worse. The police should wake up from their slumber and take steps in this regard failing which will help the youths go astray," said Sarangi. 

The police's statistics also suggest that narcotic trade is on the rise. To curb this, STF is carrying out raids. In last around two months, eight persons were arrested in five brown sugar related cases. Similarly, 13 Corex related cases were also registered. 

The question arising is why despite the police actions, such illegal narcotics trade is going on unabated. 

"We are getting information on these drug traders and keeping a tab on them. Action will be taken at appropriate time," said Mihir Panda, ASP, Puri.