port

The statement of APSEZ(Adani Ports) that it will not deal with the containers from Iran Pakistan, and Afghanistan inadvertently confirms the earlier transactions and raises suspicion that huge quantum of drugs might have gained surreptitious entry into our nation. At first instance Adani Ports said that it has no policing power, later it says that it does not want to deal with containers of these three nations.

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The Directorate of Revenue and Intelligence (DRI) authorities have seized three tonnes of drugs at Mundra Port on September 21, 2021 which perhaps is the largest consignment in the world in a single incident.

This is an indication of serious threat to the security, economy and youth of Indian nation as a whole .

The DRI deserves appreciation for this adventure, but what is to be investigated is how much of drugs must have already intruded and damaged, who are behind it, what are their links with men in statutory offices. A strong commercial link to these drugs stock was found to a city of Andhra Pradesh. The video statements of higher police officers from half a dozen States in India suggest that drugs found in their respective states was originated from Andhra Pradesh, and linked to international network with Afghanistan and other neighbouring countries conspiring to weaken India. Details are as follows:

A) Seizure of Drugs at Mundra Port

The DRI has intercepted a consignment on September 14 and 15. They had a specific intelligence information that high-quality heroin was being smuggled in two containers from Afghanistan to Gujarat’s Mundra port via Iran’s Bandar Abbas port. The two containers had 1,999.58 kg and 988.64 kg heroin packed, layered between the talc to avoid detection by security and customs officials. Another startling revelation was that Aashi Trading Company, a firm registered in Vijayawada, near capital Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh, has figured in the process. This is stated to be the single largest seizure of heroin in India till now and even one of the biggest across the globe.

The persons involved are: (i) A couple Govindaraju Durga Purna Vaishali and Machavaram Sudhakar, who allegedly imported the heroin concealed in the semi-processed talc stones through their Vijayawada registered firm (Aashi Trading Company) from a Kandahar-based company, (ii) Four Afghan nationals, and (iii) An Uzbek woman. All these persons have been arrested by the DRI till October 12.

Media reported quoting an unnamed officer: “Vaishali and Sudhakar are said to be small players as they got only Rs.10 lakh to Rs.12 lakh commission for allegedly allowing to use their talc stones containers for smuggling heroin. A larger network of Afghan nationals is suspected to be behind the consignment.” Investigators have so far found that Vaishali and Sudhakar were taking instructions from some persons based in Afghanistan and Iran. “Their role in smuggling drugs previously in the garb of imports is being investigated.”

India Today news portal wrote that Kandahar is among the provinces along with Helmand, Badghis, Uruzgan, and Faryab where the country’s major opium poppy cultivation takes place and the DRI later arrested the manager of the Vijayawada-based trading firm, M Sudhakar, from Chennai.

B) UN cautions

Afghanistan has become a kingpin of the international drug trade targeting India. The United Nations also took note of this. As per a UN estimate, there are 800 to 900 mid and high-level drugs-traffickers/syndicates in Afghanistan. Many even having full-fledged labs to turn opium poppy into high-quality heroin. Besides this, the UN data suggests that potential opium production in Afghanistan in 2020 was estimated at 6,300 tonnes and the average opium yield was 28.0 kilograms per hectare . This country produces over 85% of the world’s opium. The total area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan was estimated at 224,000 hectares in 2020, which represented an increase of 37% or 61,000 hectares when compared to 2019.

C) Narco-Terror Link and NIA Raids

After the DRI seized the 3,000 kg Afghan heroin seizure from Mundra Port, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) followed it up and has carried on raids at five locations in the National Capital Region (NCR) on October 12, in connection with. A narco-terror link is being probed in the delivery as it was sent to India from Kandahar after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. The ministry of home affairs transferred the case to NIA to probe the Taliban-Pakistan angle. The value of the seized drug was estimated to be nearly Rs 21,000 crore.

D) Statements of Adani Group

Adani Ports tried to explain the role of their port, claiming that it has no power to seize unlawful cargo. On September 21, 2021 the Adani Ports issued a statement in the wake of criticism that was surging in social media. It stated :

“The law empowers the Government of India’s competent authorities such as the Customs and the DRI to open, examine and seize unlawful cargo. No port operator across the country can examine a container. Their role is limited to running the port”…

“We sincerely hope that this statement will put to rest the motivated, malicious and false propaganda being run on social media against the Adani Group. APSEZ is a port operator providing services to shipping lines. We have no policing authority over the containers or the millions of tons of cargo that pass through the terminals in Mundra or any of our ports.”

This raises a serious threat to security of the nation arising from privatisation of ports, which could be easily used as entry points of drug-invasion with suspected terror link. Next statement of Adani ports & logistics is more interesting.

On October 11, Adani Ports and Logistics said in another statement that it will not handle “EXIM [Export-Import] containerised cargo originating from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan” starting November 15. This trade advisory will apply to “all terminals” operated by APSEZ [Adani Ports & SEZ], including third-party terminals at any APSEZ port, the statement went on to add. It clarified that, “No port operator across the country can examine a container. Their role is limited to running the port… APSEZ is a port operator providing services to shipping lines. We have no policing authority over the containers or the millions of tonnes of cargo that pass through the terminals in Mundra or any of our ports. ”

Adani Ports and Logistics is one of the country’s largest commercial port operator. It has presence across 13 domestic ports in seven States of India, such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Odisha.

The statement of APSEZ that it will not deal with the containers from Iran Pakistan, and Afghanistan inadvertently confirms the earlier transactions and raises suspicion that huge quantum of drugs might have gained surreptitious entry into our nation. At first instance Adani Ports said that it has no policing power, later it says that it does not want to deal with containers of these three nations.

The unanswered questions are: Can any port allow anything to be imported through them? Why the machinery of Central government did not check the entry of contraband drugs through these ports? It also shows that it is possible for black listing of the containers from some countries. This needs to be probed.

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      Courtesy: Hans News Service , 17 Jan 2022

Author Dr. Madabhushi Sridhar Acharyulu was a Professor at Nalsar University of Law in Hyderabad, former Central Information Commissioner and presently is Dean & Professor, School of Law, Mahindra University, Hyderabad.

Email:professorsridhar@gmail.com


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