India, Bangladesh facing new narco-terrorism threat with new drug smuggling routes: Report

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By Jayanta Bhattacharya Agartala, July 1 (PTI) North Eastern India and Bangladesh are facing a new threat from narco-terrorism as drug smugglers have changed their route for shipping in the popular narcotic, Yaba, and involved Islamic student organisations according to a report prepared by security and intelligence organisations.

With Bangladesh security forces cracking down on traditional drug smuggling routes from Myanmar to that country, new routes which involve transporting Yaba tablets, dubbed `madness drug and `Nazi speed, from Myanmar through Tripura, Mizoram and Assam into Bangladesh have cropped up.

Islamic student organisations which are facing pressure within Bangladesh have been involved in the smuggling route and security forces fear the money they earn from drug smuggling could be used to fund terrorist activities later.

As a result (of a crackdown on Bangla-Myanmar border), the trans-border narcotic syndicates are now exploiting the Indo-Bangladesh border, a recent report compiled by security agencies and made available to PTI, said.

The drug smuggling route from Myanmar now uses Manipur and from there to Silchar and Tripura and finally into Bangladesh.

It is also using the Myanmar- Mizoram - Dharmanagar - Sonamura - Bangladesh route for smuggling of Yaba tablets and other narcotics items, the report added.Yaba is a combination of caffeine and crystal meth, in tablet form, which is extremely popular among party drug users in the subcontinent. Both Bangladesh and India are popular destinations for the drug.

Recent intelligence inputs indicate the participation of Islamic Student Organization near Kailashahar in smuggling and trafficking of Yaba tablets in the State. Activities have been observed around Khubjar Mosque in Kailashar, the intelligence report said. Kailashahar is the district headquarters of Unakoti and borders Bangladesh.

The report said security agencies were probing linkage of proceeds with financing anti-national activities.

It also spoke of the presence of a key associate of deceased Bangladeshi Yaba kingpin, Saiful Karim, during an Islamic religious festival in the month of February near Assam- Tripura border.

Sources said while the target market for Yaba tablet remained Bangladesh for now, Yaba and other drugs such as brown sugar are now being retailed in North East India besides being transhipped to mainland India, in ever increasing numbers, The report said that smuggling of Codeine Based Cough Syrup (CBCS) has also increased manifold in recent months and one financier is believed running a major syndicate out of Siliguri in North Bengal. The addictive codeine syrup is popular with Bangladeshi youth who use it as a substitute for alcoholic beverages, which are banned in the neighbouring country.

The syrup, which is a medicine sold by chemists, is being trans-shipped at locations such as Panisagar (North Tripura), Teliamura (Khowai), Hawaibari (Khowai), Agartala and Boxanagar (Sepahijala). The cover cargo includes potatoes, onions, tea leaves, machinery parts etc.

The price of one bottle of 100 ml at the point of smuggling into Bangladesh is as high as Rs.1000-1100 and smuggled out to Bangladesh through Border points in Lankamura (West Tripura), Durgapur (District Sepahijala) and Harihordola, Kathalia (District Sepahijala).

It said several people have been identified as involved in stocking and distribution of heroin and brown sugar in and around Agartala. Recent inputs suggest the presence of multiple smaller syndicates in Agartala, Udaipur (District Gomati), Sonamura (District Sepahijala) and Khowai (District Khowai).

Cross border smugglers are active in Sonamura, Baxanagar, Jatrapur in Sipahijala district, Belonia in South Tripura district and Kadamtala in Dharmanagar districts of Tripura.

Dry Ganja is often smuggled out of the State through Churaibari in Assam-Tripura border. Yaba tablets and other contraband items like Brown Sugar, Cough Syrup etc are smuggled into the State through the same route. Tripura- Mizoram border is also used for drug trafficking. In recent times, many seizures have been made by State Police both inside Tripura and bordering area of Assam The report however said that despite the changes in routes and challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the BSF Tripura Frontier has actively combatted the new drug menace and managed to seize huge quantities of ganja, Yaba tablets and other contraband items in 2021 till June 25.

BSF Tripura Frontier seized 5,907.85 kg ganja, 34,674 Yaba tablets, 23,105 bottles of phensedyl, 2,883 bottles of liquor and huge quantity of medicines as well as destroyed 8,65,839 ganja saplings in the current year till June 25.

In 2020, the release said, some 4,67,453 Yaba tablets, 5,303.25 kg ganja, 65,885 bottles of phensedyl, medicines worth Rs. 30,48,646, and 3432 bottles of liquor were seized and as many as 46,66,690 ganja saplings were destroyed by the Tripura frontier of BSF.

Tripura Police also registered huge success during anti-narcotics drives in the West Tripura district with arrests of 125 persons since January this year.

So far, the West Tripura police seized around 1500 kg cannabis, 11, 967 bottles of phensedyl, 15, 951 Yaba, tablets, approximately 600 grams heroin as well as destroyed 7,000 ganja plants, Additional SP (Urban), West Tripura district, Bogati Jagadeeswer Reddy told media. PTI JOY JRC JRC

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