Goa’s tryst with drugs is not over. We now have a Minister saying that drugs are a serious issue and should be stopped. We know that, but then the Minister goes on to say that “if government cannot stop this activity despite knowing the details, it is a failure”. As a minister, Manohar (Babu) Azgaonkar is part of the government and therefore contributes to this failure in stopping the drug ‘activity’. In a cabinet form of government, the responsibility of governance also rests with him, even if the portfolio is handled by another minister. So will the government, now that a minister has openly spoken of it, wake up to the drug issue in Goa and take action?
Months ago, the Chief Minister had asked MLAs to provide him information of narcotics trade in the State so that action could be taken. This had come after some MLAs had spoken out in open forums of the illegal trade. We still don’t know if any action was taken based on any inputs the law makers may have passed on. But, Tourism Minister Azgaonkar has now cited an example of how, after being elected as MLA, he had provided the police force with details of the narcotics activity in certain areas, but the police had got back saying there was nothing of the sort happening there.
Azgaonkar wants no compromise on drugs and has come out very strongly on this, even stating that the drug business in the State cannot be run unless there is a godfather protecting it. He is, however, quite clear that the identity of the godfather is not known. But, if the Minister has more knowledge of the intricacies of this illegal trade that is casting a shadow on his ministry – the tourism industry which is the money earner for the State – the police need to listen to what he is saying, especially as he hints, but does not say it aloud, that there is political and police backing to the narcotics trade.
The question of a political hand, or political patronage, in the narcotics trade has been debated for years. There is even a Special Investigation Team of police officials that is currently probing the alleged politician-police-drug mafia nexus. It has now been years, since this team has taken over the probe but the State is no wiser as to the existence of such a nexus and who are involved if there indeed exists one. Nor is the State aware of the identity of the supposed godfather who may be protecting the drug trade in the State. These are answers that the police need to come up with and give to the people. Are they up to it?
The State police force has already been embarrassed once, just recently, with the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence seizing 100 kg of the synthetic drug ketamine from an industrial unit in Pissurlem, that was situated not very far from the police outpost. The investigation team needs to come up with some strong evidence of the politician-police-drug mafia network to redeem themselves in the eyes of the people. Some major breakthrough is required if the narcotics trade has to be crushed in the State. We have had petty peddlers being arrested, almost regularly, but a major haul hasn’t happened.
Like the matka raid in Pernem last week that netted Rs 60 lakh in cash and led to arrest of 11 persons, there is need to deliver a major dent on the drug trade with a similar big operation. The Special Investigation Team needs to deliver.