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Karnataka Will Have Forensic Labs in Every District to Fight Drug Menace: Minister

File photo of Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai.

File photo of Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai.

Noting that gambling, hookah bars, drug consumption, crime and illegal arms are all inter-connected, he said action at the ground level and strong legislations, both are being worked out to control it.

Karnataka aims to set up basic Forensic Science Laboratories (FSL) in all districts, while upgrading six regional labs in a year's time for speedy disposal of drug related cases, Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Tuesday. Noting that gambling, hookah bars, drug consumption, crime and illegal arms are all inter-connected, he said action at the ground level and strong legislations, both are being worked out to control it.

Asserting government's strong commitment against the menace,the minister also said synthetic drugs like lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) have become more rampant these days, with over 5,000 strips being seized this year alone so far. "After our government came to power, we have declared a war against drugs, not only ganja but all kinds of narcotic substances have been seized from across the state and cases have been booked and charge sheets filed," Bommai said.

Listing the number of cases booked under NDPS act since 2017, in response to a question during the question hour in the legislative assembly, he said, till November 30 this year 3,852 cases have been booked. Out of these, charge sheets have been filled in 2,285 cases and among them in 233 cases punishment has been fixed, while remaining are under investigation.

The minister was responding to a question by Congress MLA Eshwar Khandre on delay in getting FSL reports with respect to drug cases and leading to delay in filing charge sheets. Conceding there is a "bottleneck" on getting timely reports from FSL in drug related cases, Bommai said FSL lab has been modernised by using advanced technology to address this and more than 51 samples can be tested at a time, and a dedicated section for narcotics has been set up.

In the days to come, more and more cases will be investigated and charge sheets filed, he said. Region FSL labs other than Bengaluru like Kalaburagi, Mangaluru, Mysuru, Hubballi-Dharwad and Belagavi will be upgraded in six months for quick delivery of reports in drug related cases.

"As a second phase by setting aside money in the upcoming budget, our aim is to have a basic lab in all districts and experts lab at regional level, we will set them up in a year's time," he added. Responding to a question on recreation clubs in border districts engaging in drug related activities and gambling, Bommai said it has come to the government's notice and "we are taking merciless action against them." "There is no compromise, there has been enough pressure from all angles and from all kinds of people, but we have not and will not budge to it," he said.

Instructions have already been given to bring in necessary amendments to Karnataka Police act to make gambling a punishable offence,he said. The minister said the NDPS Act is a central act by Parliament and any amendments to it have to be done there.

But states have the right to frame rules while implementing the Act, as there are some lacuna in current rules restricting investigating officers, he claimed. "We are getting it removed for encouraging swift action, seizure and raids, and rules will be changed very soon." Department officials have also discussed with the National Law School to bring in a comprehensive law against drugs, to recommend to the centre or to the state, he said, adding that a strong law will be brought against drugs soon.

Replying to issues raised by Congress MLA Prasad Abbayya, Bommai said, French polish, whitener and certain adhesives are being misused by some,and action taken. "We will take stricter measures on this." To a question by BJP MLA Nagendra, he said, the government has also been taking action against hookah bars by conducting raids, as he sought cooperation by local corporations while giving license.

The minister said, foreigners like some Nigerian nationals involved in drug related activities have been booked under Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (PIT NDPS) Act under which there is stringent compulsory jail. Many have even been extradited. More than ganja, synthetic drugs like LSD these days are more rampant as they come in small strips of 1-1.5mm costing about Rs 2,500, he said.

This year 5,049 strips were seized while last year it was 155 and the previous years 200 or 100 strips, Bommai noted. Rave parties used to be fashion, but due to swift action and raids, it has created a fear and realization about criminal activities that goes on there, he said, as he promised Khandre to take necessary action against some forest officials growing ganja in Bidar, following the MLA's complaint..

first published:December 08, 2020, 21:00 IST