By Ashutosh Mishra
Bhubaneswar: The signs are ominous. The seizure of brown sugar and other narcotics by the police in the last one year or so is believed to be just the tip of the iceberg. Drug mafia appears to be well entrenched in the state with its tentacles spreading everywhere. What is worrisome is that the people being targeted by the drug cartels are the youth and the children. School kids are supposed to be among the most vulnerable as peddlers lurk around these institutions.
That the deadly trade in narcotics is casting a large shadow on the state capital is obvious from the seizures made mainly from its slums. Even women have been found peddling brown sugar in the slums. The trade, according to sources, flourishes despite arrests. For the poor living in the ‘bastis’ drug peddling is an easy source of income and arrest a small price to pay for that.
A city in transition, Bhubaneswar has a big floating population and, unlike cities like Cuttack where ‘Sahi’ culture still flourishes, it is still looking for a definite socio-cultural identity. People not only from various parts of the state but also from different parts of the country have made it their home, some on a permanent basis and some temporarily.
To the floating population, it offers a certain kind of anonymity which helps crime and criminals. An excellent example of this is how the dreaded mafia don of eastern UP, Brajesh Singh lived in the city under an assumed identity for several years before being arrested by the Special Task Force (STF) of Delhi police in 2008.
Changing the crime profile of the city only reflects its changing character, a conurbation caught in the throes of transitioning from a typical middle-class conservative society to a metropolitical culture. Currently, it is a cross between the two which is the most dangerous phase to be in. So we have a flourishing gun culture and a sex trade which often uses beauty business as a front.
Drug smuggling is the latest addition to this growing list of crimes. But then narcotics trade is not limited to Bhubaneswar, it seems to have taken the entire state into its grip. Not long ago, the special task force (STF) of Crime Branch arrested notorious drug dealer, Sheikh Raja in Bhubaneswar and this led to raids on his Balasore residence.
Police suspect that he has links with the drug mafia not only in states like Goa and Rajasthan but also in neighbouring countries such as Nepal and Bangladesh. Raja and his associates were smuggling drug consignments into Odisha via Kolkata after procuring the contraband from contacts in Bangladesh.
Balasore has emerged as a major hub of the narcotics trade in the state. The smugglers operating in the district continue to be active despite seizures and arrests. The good news is that the police have decided to adopt stermer measures including attaching the assets of drug smugglers to put an end to their nefarious activities. One only hopes the men in khaki succeed in their mission in the larger interest of the state.
(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)