M A I N   N E W S

Punjab to counter narco-terrorism
Two IRBs to be posted behind BSF along Pak border to check smuggling
Jangveer Singh/TNS

Chandigarh, December 14
In a biggest initiative ever to counter the threat of narco-terrorism, the Punjab Police has planned a second line of defence behind the Border Security Force (BSF) along the border with Pakistan to stop the continued influx of both drugs and arms from across the border.

The move, which involve stationing of two Indian Reserve Police Battalions (IRBs) along the border, had received a favourable response from the Union Home Minister, state DGP PS Gill told TNS here.

The Punjab Police wants to station two battalions, comprising 2,000 men, at Kalanaur in Gurdaspur district and between Fazilka and Jalalabad in Ferozepur district. The two new battalions will cover areas both north and south of the Sutlej in a bid to check narcotics and arms being smuggled into the state from Pakistan, both through the riverine tract and from across the barbed wire fence.

The DGP said the battalions would establish permanent checkpoints on link roads emanating from the border as well as conduct patrolling behind the BSF areas to plug current leakages.

Punjab is very concerned over narco-terrorism, joint smuggling of narcotics as well as arms. This trend has been on the rise since 2006 with Punjab becoming the biggest transit point for heroin in India. This has been corroborated by an increase in heroin as well as drug seizures in the state in the past few years. A report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime also corroborates this. What is worrying the Punjab Police is the increase in heroin smuggling into the state with investigators claiming that it is just the tip of the iceberg. Heroin seizures by the state anti-narcotics cell have increased from 32 kg in 2005 to 75 kg in 2009. This is besides the seizures made by the BSF as well as the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, all of which are worth more than Rs 600 crore in the past two years.

Sources claimed drugs worth Rs 2,000 crore could be transiting through Punjab with Gurdaspur district being the new epicentre. Earlier, Amritsar was known to be the main centre for drug smuggling.

Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, who also heads the Home portfolio, says there is a need for effective sealing of the border and that the government had brought this to the notice of the Union Home Ministry also. He said the state had also simultaneously started a policy of zero tolerance for drug smugglers and initiated the process of auction of their properties.





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