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Tripura's roaring drug business : Local Pharmacy shops engaged in supplying contraband items to drug addicts: Bribe happy Police mute spectator
Tripura's roaring drug business : Local Pharmacy shops engaged in supplying contraband items to drug addicts: Bribe happy Police mute spectator
PHOTO : Saha nursery selling high dose codeine syrups and pain killer tablets which has same effect like heroine addiction, other contrabands. TIWN Photo

AGARTALA, November 13 (TIWN Exclusive): Most of the pharmacy shops engaged in selling contraband items like phensedyl, correx, drugs, and tablets in broad day light without any prescriptions to drug addicts everyday. An investigation done by TIWN team found that all contraband items like phensedyl, correx, drug tablets are easily available over counters at most of the pharmacy shops in Agartala. Organized narcotics business in Tripura, smuggling drugs to Bangladesh will easily cross over Rs.50 to 100 crores every year. Even though few honest officials in BSF, Police, District and Sub-Divisional Administration seizing contrabands, phensedyl occasionally, but its just a tip of iceberg. Drug mafia backed with the help of police and ruling party functionaries targeting Tripura's young generation with easily available drugs in every corner of Agartala.

An investigation was done by TIWN team on selling of contraband items in Pharmacy shops in city. During the investigation, TIWN team found many pharmacy shops doing this illegal activity in broad daylight.  In one Pharmacy shop, "Saha Pharmacy" near Math Chownuhani is not only selling contraband items like phensedyl, correx, narcotic tablets  but advising young people how to get addiction "high" by a combination of pain killer tablets and phensedyl, corex, high-codine cough syrups. Pharmacy shops are not only selling contrabands, also functioning as  Drug addiction teachers.

Pharmaceutical drugs has been the big thing for the past decade in Tripura. With large cache of prescription drugs caught by the police and Border Security Force (BSF) personnel and even larger ones going unnoticed, the state has gradually shaped itself into the safest corridor in India’s Northeast for passage of contraband drugs into the adjoining territory of Bangladesh.

On the issue of narcotics, no amount of laws seems to be enough to reign in the production and distribution of banned substances. The smuggling of Phensedyl  a cough syrup, with an exceedingly high dose of codeine gained momentum in the present time.

Prescription drugs were previously used to be procured by authorized stockists. The licensing authority later dissolved licenses of all the stockists in the state due to non-maintenance of proper sales record as per the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945. The drugs, however, continue to enter the state via a number of illegal channels and smuggled into adjoining Bangladesh in large quantities. Since the state has got no legal manufacturers of proprietary drugs, the government literally does not have any option but to import drugs- an opportunity for drug smugglers to sneak in their illegal product cache.

The price of pharmaceutical drugs abused has perhaps got the most significant role to play in the system. A single fix of heroin might cost over Rs. 150, but most prescription drugs are available within a price range of Rs. 50- Rs. 60. “We have got truckloads of illegal or restricted drugs like Corex, Phensidyl, Codeine, Spasmo Proxyvon, Recodex, etc, entering the Northeast from Delhi and NCR region. The products are again amassed from a number of cities including Chandigarh, Bangalore, Pune, Patna, Lucknow, Indore, etc, and redirected from specific locations in Delhi,” an illegal pharmaceutical drug trader of Agartala said.

Saha Pharmacy selling cocktail of  high dose codeine syrups, high dose pregnancy painkiller to drug addicts. TIWN Pic

According to sources, Police are well aware of the situation and the police often detain vehicles and seize Contraband items like phensedyl, correx, drugs, and tablets consignments. But, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The network is very deep-rooted and widespread, the source mentioned.

 The smuggling of contraband items like phensedyl, correx, drugs, and tablets would, in future, become a major deterrent to better Indo-Bangla relations. But selling of contraband items in a broad daylight in an open market and medicine shops has raised questions among the police administrative section. Does it like the police know the fact and playing the role of a silent spectator? A section of people said that the police are playing a role of silent spectator in exchange of weekly bribe.

Large parts of Bangladesh and Myanmar are emerging as drug consuming zones, and bordering areas of Tripura are contributing to the fast-emerging drugs market. Due to easy availability of these contraband items a large section of youths of the city are becoming addicted.  Smugglers based in Tripura are sending these contraband items to Bangladesh virtually by the truckload, hundreds of acres of remote land in West Tripura have become sprawling ganja plantations, the source informed. According to the source, consumption of alcohol is banned in Muslim majority Bangladesh and thus the demand of alternative means like cough syrup is on the rise in the neighbouring country. Numerous smugglers of both sides of border are engaged in illegal trade of Phensedyl as it gives them huge income.One bottle of Phensedyl costs about Rs 90, but it is sold at Taka 600 or more in Bangladesh. The source added that complete fencing of Tripura’s 856km boundary with Bangladesh would prevent smuggling menace. Barbed wire fencing already completed along three fourth of international border in state and work of wire fencing is slow due to protests by local residents, geographical barriers or demarcation row with Bangladesh, the source added.

"The illegal sale of banned drugs is a non-bailable offence, and if proved, carries a punishment of three years in prison and a fine," a highly placed source of police department said.

However in exchange of regular supply of bribes to East and West Agartala P.S. - Police keeping eyes closed and drug business thriving in Agartala.

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