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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Mundra port drug bust – NIA & ED raid several premises in TN & Punjab, including those of former SAD leader Anwar Masih

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) investigators probing the now infamous 3 tons of heroin seizure at Mundra port raided the Chennai residence of Machavaram Sudhakaran and his wife Durga P V Govindaraju, and P Rajkumar of Vadavalli in Coimbatore. They have all been arrested along with 4 Afghan and 1 Uzbek national. The Chennai couple  allegedly ran the firm which had imported the consignment claiming it to be of `semi-processed talc stones’. 

The NIA had taken over the probe from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) on the 6th of this month and these raids came 3 days later. 

All the 8 arrested have been charged under sections relating to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act (NDPS), Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and criminal conspiracy. Raids were also conducted at the house of Susheela, the 74-year-old mother of Sudhakaran, who too lives at Vadavalli. Electronic equipment seized includes a laptop and a mobile phone. 

Simultaneous raids were conducted by the enforcement directorate (ED) at 9 locations in Amritsar, Punjab. The places raided included those of former Akali Dal leader Anwar Masih, an accused in the 194-kg heroin haul dating back to Jan last year. Currency worth INR 79 lakhs in both Bharatiya and foreign currency were seized during these searches.

The ED also searched the office of a money exchanger in Amritsar, suspected of using the hawala route to move the drug money abroad. “We have been making efforts to crack down on the drug cartel established in Bharat that has strong roots in Punjab,” said an ED official. A few of the accused are now in judicial custody.

Properties raided also included the ones owned by Ankush Kapoor identified as the kingpin of the drug racket, Tanvir Bedi, who is in Australia, and Simranjit Singh Sandhu, based out of Italy. The ED said that Kapoor’s aides Sukhwinder Singh, Major Singh, Tamanna Gupta and an Afghanistan national Arman Bashar Mall had set up base at Masih’s residence in Amritsar. Drugs were processed and despatched to different places all over Bharat from this location.

Bedi has links with the drug cartel in Dubai, Pakistan and Afghanistan and runs an international drug network. The anti-nationals used the hawala route to receive payments through shell companies. Bedi is also linked to the drug bust in Nov 2020 when billionaire ex-sarpanch Gurdeep Singh Rano was caught. Both the NIA and ED are examining Bedi and Sandhu’s role in the Mundra drug haul case.

Incidentally, Masih was arrested in February last year but the courts decided to grant him interim bail on ‘health grounds.’ In July this year, he attempted suicide after he allegedly consumed a ‘poisonous substance.’ The incident occurred during demonstrations organized by various Christian organizations based out of Punjab. These church-sponsored organizations wanted the government to cancel cases registered against Masih in connection with the seizure of hard drugs!

This time around the accused tried to smuggle in the heroin estimated to be worth Rs.21,000/- crores concealed as ‘semi-processed talc stones’ from Afghanistan, which had rerouted through the Bandar Abbas Port, Iran. The Congress party and assorted ‘supporters’ of the drug mafia tried to defame the Adani Group which operates the Mundra port, despite knowing fully well that port operators cannot examine any containers.

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