Criminals involved in drug trade to be put behind bars in two years: Amit Shah in Lok Sabha

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NEW DELHI, Dec 21: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday vowed to put big criminals involved in narcotics trafficking behind bars in the next two years, saying profits from the drug trade were being used to finance terrorism and the “dirty money” was detrimental to the country’s economy.

Responding to a short-duration discussion in Lok Sabha on the problem of drug abuse in the country and steps taken by the government to control it, Shah said the Centre has empowered the Border Security Force, Seema Suraksha Bal and Assam Rifles to register cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.

Shah also lashed out at those politicising the issue, saying agencies cannot work effectively if they are powerless.

“Powers have been given to security forces, but some states have said that their powers have been taken away. If we do not give powers to our agencies, how will they be able to work? We must have faith in our security forces, those politicising the issue are supporting drug trafficking,” the Home Minister said.

Shah said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spelt out a zero-tolerance policy against the drugs trade and has set a goal of a drugs-free India for the Home Ministry.

“We will leave no stone unturned in fulfilling this goal,” the minister said.

He said the Modi government has a zero-tolerance policy against the narcotics trade and the financing of terrorism from its profits, and every effort was being to eliminate the menace.

“We have mapped the drug network across the states. No matter how big the criminal is, in the next two years there will be a situation where they will be behind bars,” Shah said.

He said the battle against drugs was delicately poised and urged states to fight the menace together with the central government, keeping aside politics.

Shah said the issue of drug menace is a serious one as it destroys lakhs of families. Profits from illegal trade are also used to finance the acts of terror and the presence of dirty money is detrimental to economy.

The minister also said the government will show no mercy towards non-government organisations trying to change the demography of the country and create societal disturbances through foreign funding.

Shah said the government has roped in a number of NGOs to create awareness about drug abuse, but it cannot remain a silent spectator to unmonitored foreign funding of such organisations in the country.

“There are many NGOs that want to disintegrate India’s society. There are some NGOs that want to torture India’s society. For these NGOs, the Indian government’s policy can’t be the same.

“Those who don’t abide by the FCRA (Foreign Contribution (Regulatory) Act), strong action will be taken against them. There will be no mercy for them,” Shah said.

On the Opposition’s allegations regarding record drug haul in Gujarat, Shah said such instances were a reflection of the state machinery doing its job well.

“If the maximum quantity of drugs is caught in a state, it means that the state has done a good job against drugs. We cannot bury our heads in the sand thinking that the storm will pass us by, the country cannot be saved through an ostrich-like approach,” he said.

During the debate, opposition members had targeted the Modi government over the record drug haul in Gujarat and wondered how many consignments of contraband would have gone past the checkposts.

Shah said any investigation of drugs and seizures should not be seen in isolation. “We have to demolish the drugs network, it is only then that this problem can be solved,” he said.

The Union Home Minister said the government views a person who consumes drugs as a victim and has a sympathetic approach towards such individuals.

“But those involved in the drug trade and trafficking should be under the clutches of the law,” Shah said.

The Home Minister said drug trafficking is a borderless crime and the battle against it cannot be won unless there is cooperation, coordination and collaboration.

He said the Centre has mapped the drugs network chart and sent it to the states and identified the network in 472 districts of the country.

Shah said the government was also setting up six regional labs so that there was no delay in the testing of narcotics samples and criminals cannot escape.

“The campaign against drugs cannot be that of any one government, all the agencies of the Centre and states have to come on the same platform and run this campaign with equal intensity and seriousness, only then will we be able to save the future generations,” the Home Minister said.

Shah said Rs 97,000 crore worth of drugs were destroyed between 2014 and 2022 while Rs 23,000 crore of drugs were seized between 2006 and 2013 and the government will carry forward its campaign against drugs with gusto.

He said all state governments have fought this battle shoulder to shoulder with the central government with seriousness.

And rising above party politics and party in power, the states have also implemented whatever plans were made and information exchanged with them very well, he said.

Shah said that drugs enter the country from across the border through drones, smuggling, tunnels, ports and airports and closing of trade is not the solution to this problem. “We have to put an end to the new methods being used,” he said. (PTI)