Tribune News Service
Mumbai, February 18
The arrest of several members of an international gang of drug smugglers operating from Canada, Jalandhar in Punjab and Sydney in Australia has shed light on the possible links of some of them to the Khalistan movement, according to police sources here.
Nine members of the gang, including some foreigners, had been arrested last year from different parts of North India, including Punjab, Delhi, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. Five of the arrested were Indians of whom
two are from Jalandhar, according to a statement put out by the Narcotics Control Bureau last December. Two Nigerians, an Indonesian woman and an American were also among those arrested.
The racket came to light last June after the authorities in Australia intercepted a plasma cutting machine in which more than 55 kg of cocaine were concealed. The arrest of the importer by the Australian authorities revealed that the machine with the contraband concealed in it was despatched from Uttarakhand to the Mumbai port from where it was shipped to Sydney.
Sources here say the NCB which was alerted by the Australian authorities picked up one Shamsher Singh alias Sammy who had despatched the machine from Rudrapur in Uttarkhand. Subsequently, his associates Akshinder Singh Sodhi and Yogesh Kumar Dhuma from Jalandhar were arrested. Other members of the gang were arrested later.
According to sources here, the drug smuggling racket was run by Canadian nationals of Indian-origin who had migrated from Punjab. At least some of them are suspected to be part of the Khalistan movement still active in Canada, according to officials here.
The cocaine was of high grade and originated from South America. “The cocaine may have come via the land route to India from Pakistan,” says an officer.
While some of the drugs may been sold in India, a major chunk was sent to Australia where it was intercepted.
Officials here say reports of the arrest of nine persons by NCB late last year has resulted in other members of the gang lying low. The Indian intelligence agencies are keeping an eye on suspected Khalistani sympathisers in Canada who may also be active in the drug trade, a source here said.
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