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NE drug peddlers smuggle cough syrup to B'desh

By The Assam Tribune

MOTINAGAR (TRIPURA), March 29 � The easy availability of cough syrups having narcotic properties in Tripura is helping drug peddlers to illegally channel such medication to Bangladesh, officials said.

�The easy availability of cough syrup has worsened the situation. The drug stores in Tripura are flooded with the medicine. Ask for a bottle of it and medical stores in Agartala will deliver it without asking for prescriptions. In fact, many brands of the medicine are available even at paan shops, PCOs, CD parlours and stationary shops,� they said.

�If a bottle of cough syrup is sold at Rs 70 in retail market in India, a smuggler sells it at Rs 300 in Bangladesh.. We can arrest the illegal stockers of cough syrup, but we cannot do anything more as they bring drugs officially and pay taxes,� DIG (police control) Nepal Das said.

According to a Narcotics Control Bureau official, though the exact quantum of illegal trade in the drug in the region is not known, last year the police and BSF have recovered cough syrups worth over Rs 20 lakh per month on an average.

Last month, BSF had apprehended a 35-year-old woman identified as Jebonnesha Begum while she was trying to cross the Indo-Bangla international border with 25 bottles of Phensidyl, a well-known cough syrup, hidden in her undergarments.

Last month, Tripura Police seized 4,000 bottles of Phensidyl meant for smuggling to Bangladesh from an Agartala- bound private aircraft.

�The consignment, packed in 20 big trunks, was worth Rs 4 lakh,� Siddhartha Shankar Kar, officer-in-charge of the Agartala Airport police station told reporters.

Cartons of cough syrups enter Assam and other parts of the North East daily through the inter-State check-posts located at West Bengal�s Chagolia and Srirampur districts in buses and trucks. From Assam, the contraband items generally enter into Meghalaya and Tripura which have borders with the neighbouring country, police said.

Not only in Bangladesh, the medicines are also consumed in the Northeastern States by drug addicts, Ajit Chowdhury, a doctor, said.

Prolonged use of Phensidyl and Corex cause severe health problems like insomnia, memory loss and sensory and skin diseases, he said. � PTI

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