Suryakant Jena

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel's comment putting onus on the Odisha government to curb Ganja menace has stoked a political storm in the State.

Baghel who made the statement a day after an SUV, allegedly transporting ganja between MP and Odisha, ploughed into a religious procession in Jashpur district of Chhattisgarh killing one person and injuring 17 others, has urged Odisha and MP governments to take stern action against ganja trade.

The PTI quoted Baghel as saying that, "Whether it is Mahasamund or Bastar...ganja peddling continues to come from the government there should ascertain as to where does so much ganja come from. Odisha government should take stern action in this regard."

The statement made by the Chief Minister of the neighbouring State meanwhile has stoked a major political storm in Odisha.

Opposition BJP and Congress have pointed fingers at the Odisha government for failing to take exemplary action against Ganja smuggling syndicates which have brought infamy to the State. The Opposition has also alleged the involvement of some ruling party leaders and bureaucrats for promoting Ganja trade in the State.

BJP MLA Pradeep Purohit made an all-out attack on the ruling party in Odisha. "The biggest business of the BJD leaders sitting at the top is Ganja trade. All those involved in such an illegal syndicate should be brought to justice," said Purohit.

Congress leader Debasis Patnaik said the Odisha government is not taking any action against Ganja mafia as most of them are handled by their own party leaders.

The ruling BJD meanwhile has counter-attacked the Opposition political flanks for unnecessarily pointing the issue in Odisha too much at a time when Ganja and drugs trade in other neighbouring states have gone berserk. 

"Drug and Ganja trade are a national issue and strong intelligence sharing and cooperation between states affected by the menace along with the participation of the Centre is the way forward to resolve the problem," said BJD MLA Sashi Bhusan Behera.

But while the allegations of Opposition political parties may seem exaggerated, the sheer frequency of incidents and proliferation of the trade of narcotics which continue to hog the limelight every day or the other indeed make the claims worth noting. 

From saree packets to secret chambers inside containers and from banana-laden trucks to even police vehicles, Ganja peddlers continue to innovate new ways to evade the vigilant eyes of the police and Excise sleuths. There are ample instances of how Ganja procured from Odisha are being transported for smuggling to Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, UP, Punjab, Maharashtra. The cases of Ganja smuggling are especially more of a concern for bordering districts than anyone else. 

Intellectuals and experts opine that despite police crackdown, easy leeway from courts comes as a relief for narcotic smugglers which is very serious. 

Prahlad Singh, a de-addiction counsellor said Ganja procured from Odisha is the most-sought after in the entire country. So the State government needs to maintain extra caution, draft more stringent laws and ensure better investigation into smuggling cases. 

Police and administration however have assured that the government continues to maintain strict vigil and finding ways to curb the menace. 

Commenting in this regard, Rourkela SP Mukesh Bhamo said police are making strenous efforts to stop the cases of ganja smuggling in various ways and slowly its effects will show up.