The raid on a factory at Pissurlem that found 100 kg of raw ketamine raises a number of questions. The discovery of such a large quantity of a prescription drug, ketamine in particular, has definitely come as a major surprise, despite the fact that there have been seizures of the drug in the State in the past few years, but these of much smaller quantities, almost negligible compared to the amount found here. There have been reports that the drug, essentially an anaesthetic, is being used in the State as a psychotropic substance sold illegally, and hence this bears investigation.
Ketamine has been under the radar of the drug enforcement authorities for some years. Its illegal use as a psychotropic drug had prompted the Union Ministry of Health to list it under Schedule X of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act taking it out of the earlier Schedule H that it had been placed under. This meant that any doctor prescribing the drug would have to issue a prescription in duplicate and the pharmacist dispensing the medicine would have to retain a copy of the prescription for the record.
This was meant to check the sale of the drug across the counter and its use as a psychotropic substance. But the discovery of these 100 kgs of the drug in a factory in Pissurlem essentially means that the measures to curb its sale across the counter may have had no effect in keeping the drug off the streets. In this respect the arrest of three persons from Calangute, in connection with the raid, needs to be investigated, as drugs are mostly supplied in the beach belt that is frequented by tourists.
The haul in Pissurlem also leads to the question of whether ketamine is the new drug in the market in Goa.
The State has been aware of the use of the drug and has been keeping a check on the use of ketamine. A few months ago, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane had said that ketamine was on his hit list and he had warned pharmacies of selling the drug in the State. The Anti Narcotics Cell of Goa Police had also alleged that pharmacies along the coastal belt had been selling the drug illegally, a statement that the Chemists and Druggists Association of Goa had denied. Licences of some pharmacies had even been temporarily suspended after raids by the Food and Drugs Administration.
With this discovery, Goa’s war on drugs has taken a different turn. Goa Police have been presented with a major breakthrough by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence that raided the unit. The police will now have to swing into action to determine how the ketamine reached the factory unit in Pissurlem, and how it was to be transported out and distributed in the market. The local cops will have to prove their worth by taking up the case from here and following it through.
The ownership of the unit where the drug was found being with a person with political links, he being the North Goa general secretary of the BJP, calls for a larger investigation, as political complicity cannot be ruled out. Though the factory owner has denied knowledge of the ketamine found in his industrial premises, the investigation has to clearly establish if there are any political links. There’s a lot of work ahead for the local police force.