BENGALURU: A major goof-up by South Western Railway (SWR) was exposed on Monday, October 4, 2021, when the State Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in Madiwala belied its claim that Rs 3.2 crore worth of the banned drug methamphetamine (crystal meth) was seized by the all-woman team of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) on October 1. The lab has established that the substance was only menthol. The case against Behra, who was arrested under the NDPS Act, and whose picture was widely shared, now stands nullified.
Touting it to be one of the biggest drug busts in Indian Railways, an official release the next day (October 2) said that 640gm of the banned popular recreational drug had been seized from a passenger at Hindupur station, travelling by the Prashanti Express.
Three different sources familiar with the FSL analysis confirmed that the lab report identified it as menthol. “A sample size of 4gm was sent to the FSL from the packet containing 640gm, and it confirmed on Monday morning that it was menthol,” a source said.
SWR issued a brief statement on Monday evening, stating, “A lab report confirmed that the seized material is not methamphetamine but menthol crystals, which are an exact look alike.” The statement added that the suspect had claimed it was methamphetamine worth over Rs 3 crore. SWR had been misled by the RPF, and made public the incorrect news. The RPF had been misled by the arrested individual and an official in the Narcotics Control Bureau.
Menthol is made from the oils of peppermint or other mints, and used in balms and creams. Crystal Meth, a popular party drug, is harmful to the central nervous system. The menthol was, in fact, stealthily taken home by Dilip Das, a senior employee at Mahendra Laboratories Pvt Ltd in Peenya. An official told TNIE, “We manufacture hand sanitiser and use menthol for it. Looking at it, we knew it was from our place.”