Guwahati, July 3: The Assam Police has invoked a rarely used legal provision for preventive custody of habitual drug crime offenders in its intensified war on drugs, a senior officer said on Saturday.
At least 15 people have been detained under the provision since the second half of 2020, while six of them were taken into custody together on May 29 this year. Under the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (PIT-NDPS) Act, a repeat or habitual drug crime offender can be put into detention without trial.
"The provisions of this Act is being put into implementation since the second part of last year, though it was in the form of the law for many years now," the officer told PTI. Under this 1988 law, a repeat or habitual drug crime offender can be detained without trial and the accused has to be produced before an advisory panel that comprises high court judges within 45 days. If the advisory board approves the detention, the accused can be kept in preventive detention for up to a year to ensure that he does not indulge in narcotics crime. Else, the person has to be released. All the cases of detention by Assam Police taken up by the advisory board have been cleared so far, the officer said.
The first such detention was made under a case of the CID, while the latest, in which six people were detained together on May 29, was on basis of an investigation by the Dhemaji district police. Besides using the earlier little-used provision in the law, the Assam Police is also engaging with all stakeholders to ensure maximum penetration into drug syndicates. "We have been holding day-long training sessions for our officers to sensitise them on all legal provisions. We are also regularly meeting other stakeholders, like domain experts and civil society members, to know their perspective while tackling this menace," the official said. Comprehensive guidelines have also been issued by the CID to the field-level officers, that are helping them in dealing with drug crime-related cases more efficiently and swiftly.
The official said, "The amount of drugs that we have recovered and the arrests we have made in the last couple of months show how effectively the police are dealing with the problem. Drugs, including tablets and cough syrup bottles, worth over Rs 131 crore have been seized between May 10 and June 29, as per the information shared by GP Singh, Special DGP of the state police. Among these, tablets and capsules were worth Rs 47.44 crore, followed by ganja (Rs 34.30 crore) and heroin (Rs 33.46 crore) was recovered, Singh said that over 6800 kg ganja, 3300 kg poppy straw, 16 kg heroin and 10 kg opium, 3 kg crystal methamphetamine and 2 kg morphine were seized during the period.
Nearly 9.50 lakh tablets/capsules and over 58,000 bottles of codeine-based cough syrup have also been seized. Cannabis cultivation in more than 31 bighas of land has also been destroyed. Over Rs 84 lakh in cash have been recovered, he said. In connection with these drug hauls, 723 police cases have been registered till June 29 since May 10, leading to the arrest of 1253 people, the senior police officer added. The Assam Police has stepped up its 'war on drugs' after the new government headed by Himanta Biswa Sarma assumed office on May 10.
Sarma recently said that the state government's goal is to create a substance-free society and Assam Police will take a stern stand against peddling of drugs.