Sinlung /
29 July 2013

Eastern India New Smuggling Hub

According to custom department statistics, the three eastern Indian cities are more preferred as routes for narcotics, arms smuggling and transfusion of contraband notes than even Mumbai, the den of underworld bigwigs.

The country recorded a total of 35,500 cases of smuggling and commercial fraud in 2012-13 as compared to 33,251 cases in the previous year, according to Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) statistics.

Of these, less than 5 percent cases were reported from Mumbai whereas Kolkata, Guwahati and Shillong accounted for over 64 percent of all the cases.

Porous border and lack of coordination between the various agencies like Border Security Force, state police, Narcotic and Crime Bureau, Custom department and department of Revenue Intelligence have mainly attributed to the rise of trans-border crimes through the eastern fence of the country.

India shares a 2,216-km unfenced and partly fenced border with Myanmar, Nepal, China and Bangladesh.

There is also no proper mechanism between India and these neighbouring countries for a coordinated effort to check the menace, pointed out home ministry officials.

They said in March this year senior officials of India and Bangladesh’s border guards discussed trans-border crime committed by criminals on both sides of the border, prevention of smuggling of fake Indian currency, cattle and contraband.

A 27-member BSF delegation led by its Director General Subhash Joshi met the visiting 23-member delegation of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) led by its chief, Maj Gen Aziz Ahmed in New Delhi to find ways to curb the crime.

Similar meetings were being held time to time with other neighbouring countries too, but there was no concrete outcome, rued the home ministry officials.

According to a finance ministry report, of late smugglers have gradually shifted focus from gold, silver and electronic goods to arms, ammunitions, explosives, fake currency notes and narcotic drugs.

It said that heroin and cannbis (hashish and ganja) regularly came into India through the Indo-Nepal border, from where the drugs found way to other parts of country via northeastern states, particularly through Manipur.

Smuggling of synthetic drugs like amphetamine and methamphetamine into and out of the northeast has been on the rise of late, according to Custom department statistics.

These items mainly enter India from Myanmar through Mizoram and Manipur. Apart from various parts of India, these drugs also find its way into Bangladesh through Assam and West Bengal, a BSF spokesperson T K Chetri told bdnews24.com.

BSF earlier this month, launching a crackdown, arrested two Bangladeshi nationals from near Indo-Bangladesh border in West Bengal while they were trying to smuggle Phensedyl and ganja to Bangladesh.

Arms and ammunition too were regularly smuggled to India through Indo-Myanmar, Indo-Bangladesh and Indo-Nepal border. Various underground groups active in Northeast and the Islamist fundamentalist groups, which have spread their networks through sleeper cells, across the country are the main beneficiaries of these illegal consignments, said a Guwahati-based custom official on condition of anonymity.

Fake Indian currency notes and cattle are two other most frequently smuggled items through Indo-Bangladesh border in West Bengal and Assam, according to the BSF sources.

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