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Varanasi
Thursday, August 11, 2022

Agencies on alert as narcotics breach Andamans shield

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, considered insulated from vices common to the Bharatiya mainland till now, are recording an increase in the number of substance abusers.

Authorities are worried with even a section of school-children getting easy access to drugs such as marijuana. De-addiction centres have also reported the use of Cocaine and Heroin by a section of youths. Authorities are now a worried lot.

“The crime rate in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is among the lowest in the country as entry and exit to the Archipelago are strictly monitored. One can only leave the islands using flights or ships and all passengers undergo security checks. Hence, there is no escape route for criminals. However, narcotics are now turning into a problem. There are no poppy or marijuana plantations in the islands. So, they must be arriving from the mainland or being smuggled from other countries along sea routes,” a senior official of the Andaman and Nicobar Administration said.

Due to their strategic location, the island chain is kept under constant watch by Bharat’s security forces. A couple of years ago, the Coast Guard intercepted a Myanmarese boat with drugs close to the islands. According to another official, who preferred to remain unnamed: “A section of international as well as domestic tourists expect that drugs will be available in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as they managed to procure them in other locations in the country like Goa and Kerala. Hence, there is a demand. Now, some of the locals are also getting access to the stuff.”

Some international tourists prefer Bharatiya seaside destinations to those in countries like Thailand where drug laws are extremely stringent. Possession of certain drugs over a certain quantity can even fetch the death penalty. Bharatiya laws are far laxer and drugs are readily available at nearly all tourist destinations such as Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, with its beautiful beaches — considered among the best in the world — was considered an exception but things have changed.

Sources now claim that drug cartels have started operating in the Andamans. Some of the operations are even handled by foreign nationals with long term visas. Such people often book cottages at resorts for several months and run their operations through local agents. The effort is now on to track the movement of the narcotics. After all, there can be no prosecution without hard evidence.

All agencies have now been alerted. Even the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) that operates passenger services to Port Blair from Kolkata and Chennai has made it very clear that every person along with his/her luggage will be searched for narcotics before they board the ships.

Authorities also have doubts about cruise ships that anchor close to famous beaches like Radhanagar on the Havelock Island. These ships are close enough to dump consignments of drugs in watertight bags into the sea, to be picked up by couriers later.

After all, these ships operate dive boats for passengers. While cargo vessels undergo stringent checks, cruise liners are not disturbed unless there are specific alerts.

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with minor edits to conform to HinduPost style guide)

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