Pune: To sensitise youngsters about issues pertaining to substance abuse, the Pune police will launch a massive campaign from January 1 in major city colleges. The issue came to the fore among the police after the death of a 19–year–old student, Ankit Sharma, due to alleged drug overdose at Khadki last month.
Deputy commissioner of police (anti–narcotic cell), Rajendra Dahale, told TOI, “From the January 1, we will launch the campaign in all major city colleges. It has been observed that college students are turning to be easy targets for drug peddlers. Ankit Sharma was latest victim.”
Dahale said as part of the campaign, police officers will visit the colleges and deliver lectures. An exhibition on the subject is also on cards. “We are trying our best to make the city free of narcotics. Whenever we get information about drugs being sold illegally, we conduct raids and nab the peddlers. To do so, we have developed a good network of informers. This year, we have arrested eight major peddlers from outside the state who were involved in trafficking drugs into the city,” Dahale added. “Along with these eight suspects, till date, we have filed 49 cases and arrested as many as 100 suspects. We have also seized substance worth Rs 58.53 lakh this year.”
Inspector G V Nikam of the anti–narcotic cell told TOI, “As Pune is located centrally and have easy access to other cities in the state and even other states, it’s emerging as a hub of drugs peddlers. Their activities have been kept in check by regular raids by the police force.”
Nikam said, this year, the police have seized 51 kg of ganja (marijuana), brought to the city from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. “We also recovered seven kgs of opium trafficked to the city from Gujarat and Rajasthan border, 5 kgs of charas (hashish) which came from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Nepal border and Jammu and Kashmir, and brown sugar from Mansoor and Jawara districts of Madhya Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat and Rajasthan,” he said.
Nikam said even though the Pune police have information about the drug peddlers from the other states, they are yet to receive any help from the law enforcement agencies of these states. This is even after the Pune police arrested eight suspects from other states.
Recently on December 6, the anti–narcotic cell sleuths arrested three suspects, including a drug peddler near Salisbury Park and seized 152 grams of heroin worth Rs 22.5 lakh from their possession. This was the first time the police had seized pure heroin in the city. “The main suspect, Salam Saylo Singh (29), hails from Manipur. He had brought the substance from Myanmar border,” Nikam said.
“We have got some encouraging breakthrough in this case and will soon be to crack a major drug racket,” Nikam added.
Sniffer dog for Anti–narcotics cell
The anti–narcotics cell will soon be equipped with a sniffer dog who can easily smell drugs. The dog, currently, is being trained at the training centre at the headquarters of the city police. The police have dogs who are experts in locating bombs. But, for the first time, the police will get a dog that can smell narcotics. Inspector G V Nikam said, “Very soon, we will get the dog. After that, our work will certainly be easier.”