Exposé: Get Home Delivery of Heroin in Punjab Within Minutes
Despite heightened police activity in the cities, Punjab hinterland is totally in the grips of drug mafia. Banned drugs like Heroin or Chitta are easily available in the state.
Tarn Taran: Take a moment and think of the most easily available commodity — bread! milk! vegetables! Back in the day, friendly neighbourhood kirana stores used to take care of one's daily needs. Slowly, supermarkets opened up, some in nearby markets, others in shopping malls. These days, however, one can simply download an app and almost everything is delivered at the doorstep. The same evolution is happening in Punjab. Except the fact that the easily available commodity is Heroin. Or Chitta, as they call it in this part of the world.
Meet Gurudev, he is a truck driver and a mobile drug shop. Much like the grocery apps, he takes orders on phone and delivers within minutes. Tall claims by Captain Amarinder Singh aside, business of Gurudev and many like him seems to be booming.
This is the story of a state where two-thirds of households have at least one addict. The state has 836 drug addicts for every one lakh people as per the findings of the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment. This is way above the national average of 250 drug users for every one lakh people.
The problem is so deep that the 2017 Assembly elections in the state were fought on the promise of a drug-free Punjab. The Akali regime, which was largely seen as patron of the billion dollar drug mafia, was booted out and Captain Amarinder Singh of the Congress came to power. His main promise was to weed out drugs from Punjab within a month.
But three months after he came to power, News18 investigation exposed how drug mafia continues to thrive in the hinterland of Punjab. This reporter travelled to the districts close to Pakistan border, the Majha region of the state, where CNN-News18 had exposed the flourishing drug industry in 2016.
Hardly anything has changed in Majha three months after the new government came to power. Mukhtiar Singh Patti of Tarn Taran, who lost his son to drugs and has since turned into an anti-drug activist, said "Nothing has changed with the change in the government. Only difference is the drug prices have gone up."
Same peddlers different strategy
CNN-News18 spent over two weeks traveling through the Majha region. For the first couple of days, it appeared as if the state had actually moved on from drugs and the peddlers were running scared. But soon, our probe team realised that the rules of the game have changed. The mafia is omnipresent, but they have stopped trusting outsiders. We used a reformed drug addict as our conduit with those selling the contrabands and in just three days we were in touch with three dealers.
Peddlers caught on camera
Of the peddlers we met, Baaju from Patti was the biggest player. As long as you put money on the table, he is never short of supply. Similarly, Gurudev is officially a truck driver, but his truck is mostly used as a delivery vehicle. CNN-News18 investigative team managed to capture both these peddlers on camera. There was another dealer, Shinder, who backed out at the last moment and hence evaded the camera. Striking the deal was rather simple. We called Baaju asking him for 'Chitta'. The conduit, whose identity has been kept a secret, made the calls. The conversation was in Punjabi and, if roughly translated, went like this:
Conduit (C): we need stuff do you have any?
Baaju (B): Yes, I have.
C: Where should I come?
B: Come to the railway station.
B: And get some corn from your field
Soon, we loaded our vehicle with corn and reached Patti railway station. The conduit, was asked to wait under a tree near the station. About 20 minutes later, Baaju called. Soon he came to the designated spot. As instructed by the CNN-News18 investigation team, the conduit tried to raise the stake, he asked if a larger consignment was possible. A confident Baaju assured that as long as payments are made on time, any size of consignment is possible.
The next man caught in the net was Gurudev, the roaming peddler. He invited the conduit to his truck and treated him to 'lassi'. Later, after taking the money, left our man in the truck and went out to get the promised stuff.
Despite heightened police activity in the cities, Punjab hinterland is totally in the grips of drug mafia.
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