NIA Invokes Terror Charges in the Mundra Port Heroin Smuggling Case
A home ministry official said, "The case has international ramifications and that is why it has been given to NIA."
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday, 6 October, took over the Mundra Port case, where a massive consignment (2,988.22 kg) of heroin, with an estimated street value of Rs 21,000 crore, was seized at Gujarat's Adani-owned Mundra port, by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) on 15 September.
Reportedly, the consignment originated from Afghanistan and was shipped to Mundra from the Bandar Abbas Port in Iran. The heroin was found hidden inside soap stone/talc powder containers.
The NIA said that it registered a case after orders from the Home Ministry. Apart from invoking sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, the agency has also invoked Section 17 (punishment for raising funds for terrorist act) and Section 18 (punishment for conspiracy to commit terror acts) of the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
A home ministry official was quoted as saying, “Given that the drugs originated from Afghanistan where the Taliban are ruling now, there is an angle of narco-terrorism linked to the whole affair. The case has international ramifications and that is why it has been given to NIA,” Indian Express reported.
Who Are the Accused?
NIA's FIR mentions Machavaram Sudhakaran, Durga PV Govindaraju and Rajkumar P as accused, among others.
The NIA said in a statement that required actions have been initiated in accordance with the law.
Chennai-based Sudhakaran and his wife Govindaraju own the company that was shipping the consignment.
Govindaraju is also the proprietor of M/s Aashi Trading Company, registered in Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada, that was importing the talc from a firm called M/s Hasan Husain Ltd, Indian Express reported.
So far, nine people have been arrested by the DRI, four out of whom are Afghans and one is an Uzbek national.
Meanwhile, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are also investigating the case.
How Were the Drugs Captured?
The DRI officials posted at various ports across the country often do profiling of the company whenever a new consignment arrives at the port.
A DRI official got suspicious about this consignment when he saw that this was the second consignment of the firm within three months. The firm was registered in August 2020 and the first consignment was brought in June 2021.
The investigating officer said, "Soap stone/talc powder is used in cosmetics. So, the DRI official just got intrigued as to why a new company is importing talc powder so frequently. That’s why he got all the containers opened and checked."
Recently, a special court for Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in Gujarat directed DRI to investigate if Mundra Adani Port’s management and authority gained any benefits from the seized consignment, Indian Express reported.
(With inputs from The Indian Express)
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