On February 3, the Government Railway Police (GRP) personnel at the Ahmedabad railway station noticed a man who alighted from Puri-Ahmedabad Express. His luggage was unusually heavy, especially for a man of his appearance. The suspecting police set him aside for interrogation and the 30-year-old daily wager from Bihar immediately broke down and confessed to carrying 29.85 kg ganja. The market rate of the consignment was estimated at Rs 2.98 lakh.
The GRP arrested the passenger, Munna Snehi Paswan, a farm labourer from Bihar, and booked him under the NDPS Act.
Even as Gujarat has, in recent years, seen a rise in influx of drugs through all modes of transportation, it is ganja transported by trains that continues to be a problem for law enforcement since this is domestic drug trafficking of marijuana grown in the country itself.
Incidentally, while charas and methamphetamine make its way through road transport, heroin and cocaine are usually smuggled in via sea ports, while tramadol still depends on air cargo.
On conditions of anonymity, a senior GRP officer shared that the 12843 Puri-Ahmedabad Express is now infamously famous for being the harbinger of ganja into the state. “In the last five years, GRP at Ahmedabad railway station have filed 23 NDPS cases after seizing ganja either abandoned or found from luggage of passengers on this train,” he shared. In 2022, Railway Protection Force (RPF) too, detected four cases of ganja trafficking amounting to 48.72 kg worth Rs 4.87 lakh and handed them over to the police, corroborated RPF inspector S.S. Yadav.
While three arrests sprung up from the Navjeevan Express, a 7.96 kg consignment was found abandoned on Puri-Ahmedabad Express in July 2022. It was traced to a woman from Ahmedabad loitering near the toilets on Platform 6, leading to her arrest.
From 2018-2022, the GRP, especially its Special Operations Group (SOG), have seized 291.41 kg of ganja worth as much as Rs 26.97 from the Puri-Ahmedabad Express. Officials said this is by far the highest among the four trains in which ganja is known to be trafficked, thus making train number 12843, the most notorious of them all. The other trains are the 12834 Howrah-Ahmedabad SF Express, the 12656 Chennai-Ahmedabad Navjeevan Express and 17204 Kakinada-Bhavnagar Express.
Interestingly, most passengers arrested by GRP are among the impoverished or hand-to-mouth sustenance lot. “They are paid some thousands to risk being carriers. A photo is clicked and sent to the recipient at the destination and they are instructed not to change clothes during the journey. A specific delivery point is assigned and payment is made after the task is completed,” shared SOG Inspector, S.V. Vasava.
He also shared how increased vigilance and surveillance through human intelligence and CCTV cameras have propelled greater arrests. Not a single case on the train warranted arrest in 2018, 2019 and 2020. “However, with RPF and GRP officials finding abandoned drugs lying under the seats, hidden behind partitions or in the gaps above the toilets. However, active surveillance undertaken since SP Shweta Shrimali took charge led to arrests in three of the six cases in 2022,” he briefed.
Notably, departmental action was also initiated against a GRP constable who found an abandoned bag on January 27, 2022 but failed to report it for several hours. It contained 13 kg ganja worth Rs 1.3 lakh and is suspected to have reached Ahmedabad on Puri-Ahmedabad Express.
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