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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Odisha, especially Bhubaneswar, got zoomed on the country's dubious narcotics map by a leaked Whatsapp chat of  controversial actress Rhea Chakrobarty, who in the chat had  purportedly exclaimed, "Dude, Bhubaneswar is the Scene." What she boasted of her finding in Odisha's capital city was 'the best ever weed'.

True to Rhea's discovery, Odisha looks virtually swinging to the charms of the magical 'Golden Girl' and the 'Love Weed'. With Odisha having been made a big bang arrival on to the country's drug scene, the big poser is - Odisha trading on the 'high' road of Punjab?

The sheer volume of  the seizures by the Central and State enforcement authorities shows what sort of  a terror has been unleashed by the Brown Sugar/Heroin (golden girl) and Cannabis (love weed) in the State.

The Spread Of Narcotics grip over Odisha

Brown sugar trade in Odisha is growing by leaps and bounds. The quantum rise in seizures tells the real story.  In a span of only 4-years (2016-2020),  the confiscation of Brown Sugar by law enforcement agencies in the State  has charted a massive 732 per cent growth. This is only half the story told. The seizures of cannabis smoked to a high growth of 165 per cent during the same period.

Sample this. In 2016, the quantum of  brown sugar (Heroin) recovery stood at 541 grams, and,  as on today, the quantity of brown sugar seized stands at a mindboggling figure of over 5 kg. And the quantity of cannabis seized this year has crossed the 1000 quintal mark by this October from mere 308 quintals in 2016.

Drug Trade Trend In Odisha

The reference of 'best ever weed' by controversial starlet Rhea got a thumbs up if the recently released 2019-20 annual report of  Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) is given a cursory glance.

"DRI has observed an emerging trend, whereby, cannabis (ganja) is being sourced from Odisha to states like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. Tracking the route of drug trade, the report said the narcotics from Odisha finds its way into northern and western states via Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Down south, it travels through Telangana to reach the drug market in Chennai," the report observed.

Significantly, if the 2019 report titled 'Magnitude of Substance Use in India, released by the Union Ministry of Social Welfare is taken into account, the big revelation to the fore is Odisha figured among the top-10 states for the use of Heroin or brown sugar. "In the country as a whole, the total opioid (herion and other similar drugs) users has been estimated at 77 lakh. While Punjab has 7 lakh users, the number in Odisha is estimated at 3 lakh," the report observed.

The above two factual statements show how Odisha is dangerously trading the 'high' road of Punjab.

How Heroin Makes Debut in Odisha?

As per a case study by IDSA (Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis), 'Golden Crescent' (Afghanistan- Pakistan-Iran) has been the primary source of heroin and hashish being trafficked into India. It observed that the emergence of ‘Golden Triangle’ (Myanmar-Thailand-Laos) has made India doubly vulnerable to the trafficking of the aforesaid narcotics.

But in Odisha, the hub of Heroin (brown sugar) trade is Balasore. It is from here, the consignments were either delivered to or sourced by drug peddlers across the State. "Investigation into the arrests and seizures made by Odisha's Special Task Force reveal that the narcotic substances were sourced from Balasore in Odisha. And with Balasore sharing borders with West Bengal, the heroin trail can be tracked down to that state," explained IPS Rahul PR, former SP, STF. Rahul who is presently posted as the SP, Jharsuguda added that Koraput, Malkangiri and Gajapati have emerged as primary source of cannabis produced in the State.

While narcotics substances like heroin makes debut into Odisha from Bangladesh (where Rohingya refugees transport it from Myanmaar, says IDSA report), cannabis is very much home grown, observed the DRI report.

How Drug Syndicates Manage to Dodge Surveillance?

The drug syndicates in the State use encrypted messages and innovative passwords to dodge surveillance by police or enforcement agencies."For cannabis, they use the word 'Haircut' and for Brown sugar, the innocuous terms used are 'Noise' , 'little boy' and the astrological sign 'Aries'," explained a senior STF officer who is a veteran of many anti-narcotics operations.

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