Intelligence agencies are raising alarm over Pakistani drug syndicates becoming active in Jammu and Kashmir where heroin is being smuggled into the country to finance terror activities.
The National Investigation Agency’s arrest of a bank manager, Afaq Ahmad Wani, from Handwara in Srinagar on Friday in a case related to seizure of 21 kg of heroin and cash from the members of a drug syndicate operating in J&K is only the tip of an iceberg, said an intelligence official.
“The malaise is much deeper and the narco-terror is growing to become a big threat from Pakistan as it has expanded its routes from land to sea in the last few years ,” said the official .
There is mounting evidence not just with Indian agencies but with other neighbouring countries as well where several Pakistanis have been arrested on charges of narcotics trade, with recent cases in Sri Lanka and Maldives. In March, eight Pakistani nationals were arrested after 400 kg heroin was recovered from two foreign vessels by the Sri Lankan navy.
From March 2019, almost a dozen recoveries from Pakistani narcotics smuggling gangs have taken place. The Sri Lankan navy and the Maldivian National Defence Force have made many seizures in the last 8-10 months, said a security official. Six Pakistanis were arrested in May 2019 when a Pakistani fishing boat 'Al Madina' was caught with 218 kg heroin off the coast of Kutch in Gujarat. In March 2019 , the Gujarat ATS and the Indian coast guard arrested one Afghanistan national following seizure of 100 kg heroin. In 2015, the Indian coast guard had seized 232 kg heroin and drugs costing approximately Rs 600 crore off the Gujarat coast.
What is equally worrisome for the Indian agencies is the routing of the opium which is being sourced from Afghanistan and then processed by the criminal syndicates based in Faisalabad and Lahore before being dispatched to Karachi or Gwadar for sea transportation or smuggled inside Indian territory from across the border to sponsor terror activities of groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
The latest investigation into the Handwara drug case has revealed that the accused persons were smuggling drugs and psychotropic substances in huge quantities through the Line of Control (LoC) and the proceeds of the sale were used to finance the activities of LeT operating in the valley, said the NIA .
Intelligence sources said that the cross border narco-terror threat is becoming a major area of concern and the problem needs to be nipped in the bud before J&K falls prey to it.