KOCHI: The Narcotic Cell of the Ernakulam Rural Police has decided to intensify inspection of trains arriving in the city from the North East, following reports that many interstate migrants visiting the State for employment have been acting as carriers of psychotropic substances and banned tobacco products.
Speaking to ‘Express’, Anti-narcotics Cell Deputy Superintendent V K Sanil Kumar said, “On February 19, we swooped down on the Kolkata-Thiruvananthapuram Shalimar Express at Aluva as part of ‘Operation Shalimar,’ and arrested 20 Assam and West Bengal natives for possessing psychotropic drugs and banned tobacco products.”
“Since such raids are not fully foolproof, we will conduct similar raids at railway stations in Central Kerala, where trains originating from the North Eastern states arrive, with assistance of the Railway Protection Force (RPF),” he said.
The office of the RPF Divisional Security Commissioner has extended support for the anti-drug drive launched by the State Police, after receiving complaints from various quarters. According to RPF sources, there were instanced of migrants misusing the Railways parcel service for transporting drugs. “Since the RPF has no power similar to that of the police, the agency would act only on specific inputs,” they said.
Unlike the normal cases, it is very difficult for the police to arrest persons who carry contraband in trains as they will have to wait in plainclothes when the culprits disembark. Or else, the law enforcement agencies should have clear evidence to book the persons who loaded the consignment in the coach. “Usually, the carriers do not touch the consignments of banned tobacco products and psychotropic drugs, which they load while boarding the train, until they disembark. So, even if the officials conduct raids and seize the drugs, nobody on board the train would claim the baggage. Also, none of the co-passengers would be in a position to identify the owner of the ‘abandoned’ baggage,” said RPF officials, adding that there had been a steady increase in drug peddling cases in Kochi and its suburb.
“In 2013, only a handful of interstate migrant workers were arrested in connection with drug cases, while the number rose to around 40 in 2015. Since Central Kerala, especially Ernakulam District, has the largest concentration of migrant labourers in the State, drug peddlers are focusing on the floating population in this region,” added the officials.
■ Operation Shalimar will be extended to the other railway stations in Thrissur and Ernakulam districts
■ On February 19, around 20 Assam and West Bengal natives were arrested from Shalimar Express for carrying psychotropic drugs and banned tobacco products
■ Drug-peddlers misuse the Railways parcel service to transport narcotic drugs
■ A total of 267 narcotic cases were registered in Ernakulm in 2015