Bhubaneswar: If the trend of brown sugar business and experts’ opinions are to be believed, Orissa is well on its path to become the ‘Second Punjab’ of India. Drug peddlers in the state mostly target the students and make them their easy prey.
Insofar as Capital city is concerned, Haldipadia has become the hub of brown sugar trade. This apart, Santarapur in Khandagiri area, Old Town, places near Sai temple at Tankapani Road and Unit-IV are some of the preferred destinations of brown sugar peddlers.
Police had seized 686.5 gram of brown sugar in the twin cities in 2016 of which 634 .5 gram was seized from the Capital only. The Commssionerate police has so far registered four cases this year and arrested six people on charges of drug peddling.
“Earlier, tourists were the main suppliers of brown sugar in Orissa and Puri was the hub for the trade. The first case of brown sugar sale was reported from Puri in 1982,” said Pratap Kumar Mohanty, president of Disha Foundation, a de-addiction centre.
Balasore, Jaleswar and Baripada are the main sources of brown sugar in the state. The contraband is supplied to these areas from West Bengal and a minor share also comes from Punjab. The drug enters West Bengal from porous Bangladesh border. Peddlers feel it safe to transport the drug to several places in the state through trains and buses.
What is more startling is that some dishonest Border Security Force (BSF) personnel are allegedly facilitating the supply of the intoxicant through India-Bangladesh border.
“I usually visit a cafeteria near IIT-Bhubaneswar in the evening where some youths take brown sugar every day. Once they had offered me the contraband, but I refused to take. However, latter they convinced me and after a month I became an addict,” said Jaffer (name changed) a 25-year-old youth, who was pursuing engineering before he turned into an addict and then a peddler. Currently, the youth is in a de-addiction centre.
“There was a raid in Haldipadia slum in 2015 following which my dealer at the slum stopped bringing it from Balasore. I decided to go Balasore to bring the contraband as my clients were putting pressure on me. I met the dealer and told him that I will bring drug from Balasore,” said Jaffer.
“The dealer gave me cash and introduced me to the supplier there over phone. I left for Balasore by train. As soon as I reached the railway station there, the supplier came and took me to his place (a slum) near the railway station. He sold me the drug at `700 per gram while in Bhubaneswar it costs `1200 per gram. I bring it from there by train. Sometimes peddlers hide it in their hair or in their undergarments,” Jaffer added.
The contraband is sold in small pouches costing around `120. The cost of 1 brick (1 kg) is `18 lakh in Balasore, said Jaffer.
“However, dealers avoid bringing the drug in kgs from Balasore as it would be a risky affair. Sometimes suppliers have to give tip to the GRP personnel or police,” alleges Jaffer.
According to sources, some suppliers in Balasore have started preparation of brown sugar in small quantities.
Meanwhile, to save themselves from the eyes of police, peddlers are using different ways to supply the contraband. They are targeting vehicles carrying cattle and chicken.
“I once brought charas covered with wax from Himachal Pradesh by a flight,” said Jaffer.
The drug peddlers of the Capital city target the students who are under extreme pressure over several reasons. The peddlers first offer them the contraband at a cheaper rate and sometimes for free also.
Amrit Pattajoshi, a psychiatrist, says, “People take drugs due to intense study pressure or family discord. It spreads among the students very fast because of study pressure and peer influence. It hardly takes three doses of the drug to make one habituated to it and within a month one becomes an addict. Then one may not hesitate to commit any sort of crime to obtain the drug.”
“The amount of brown sugar seized in 2016 is more than what police have seized during the last 10 years here,” said Yogesh Bahadur Khurania, Commissioner of Police.
Speaking about the racket, Khurania said police are putting its best efforts to prevent brown sugar trade. “There are many dealers in Balasore and other parts of the state who are under our radar. But according to Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, a person can only be arrested if we find him/her possessing the contraband,” said Khurania.
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