IN what was the biggest seizure of drugs in the state, the officials of the government of India’s Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) found over 50 kg of Ketamine, known as date rape drug, in a raid conducted on a factory at the Pissurlem Industrial Estate in Sattari. Three foreigners have been detained for their alleged involvement. There is no clarity yet on whether the drugs were being manufactured in the factory, or the factory was being used as a storage facility or the seized drugs were being used to manufacture synthetic drugs for overseas and local markets. It is shameful that the local law enforcement authorities including the police, the Anti Narcotics Cell, the state unit of the Narcotics Control Bureau and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not know anything about it, though it appears the illegal business must have been going for years. The Goa police has declared zero tolerance to drugs, and been catching petty peddlers, but the shark escaped. Trade in ketamine is old in the state. Way back in December 2013, the Narcotics Control Bureau officials had seized over 450 bottles of ketamine at Porvorim. Last October, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane issued a strict warning to pharmacies selling the drug.
The DRI maintained strict secrecy about the raid, not sharing the details with the state police or other central agencies. The raid was planned as a part of a nationwide drive as similar drug seizure was in other states too. The factory was raided after a tip-off. It is interesting to note that the informant chose to inform a national agency and no agency of the state. Perhaps the informant feared the state agency might tip off the owner of the factory Vasudev Parab, who is a general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party. We hope the DRI would investigate the case to its depth and spare no one. The BJP leadership at the central and state levels should allow the DRI officials total freedom to get to the truth and conduct a successful prosecution, as any complacency or dilution would only give strength to the drug traders who have already spread their tentacles in the state, especially the coastal parts.
It also rings alarm bells for the Goa Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC), which allots plots in industrial estates. The raided factory in the Pissurlem Industrial Estate was set up for fabrication of grills and other such material but was being used for drug trade. Factory owner Vasudev Parab has claimed that having been affected by mining shutdown he had leased it out to an Indian-born Canadian national on a verbal agreement. How can he be believed? How can he lease out his premises without actually verifying the identity and checking the antecedents of a person? Did he not even once care to visit the premises to see what was being done there? Is subletting allowed by the GIDC? Did the owner inform the GIDC of his verbal lease? Now that a case of illegal leasing of the factory has been revealed the GIDC should carry out a survey to find out whether there were cases of such illegal leasing in other industrial estates too and whether illegal activities were being carried out in such premises. Though the state authorities cannot conduct raids on every factory or business they have the intelligence wing to collect information of illegalities and to act on the basis of intelligence gathered. It is apparent that the state agencies failed in their duty in the present case.
Now that the raid by the DRI has been completed and a huge haul of drugs seized, the state police should conduct an inquiry on their own to find out how much quantity of drugs had been rolled out from the factory and who were involved in the syndicate. The police must also find out whether drugs from the factory were supplied to dealers in the state and how much. The DRI ought to share the information it has gathered with the state police in order to make sure that the whole illegal network and channels of distribution of drugs from the factory are busted and all those involved are brought to justice. The state police needs to re-establish its credibility which it seems to have lost in the eye of the informant who went to the DRI. The ANC and the officers posted at the police stations in the coastal belt have to be galvanized by the police top brass into sweeping action to catch as many drug traders in the net as possible in the shortest possible time. Let the state police give the Pissurlem raid a scary momentum for the drug dealers.