The war on drugs can at times inflict collateral damage as the Superintendant of Police of the Narcotics Control Bureau, Jitendra Rajan realised to his chagrin. As we have reported in this edition, Rajan, while conducting a narcotics raid, in a shack at Arambol got into a heated argument and scuffle/fight with the shack owner. The locals around the area, who thought a tourist was assaulting one of their own local brethren brutally beat up the SP, who had to fire the air to disperse the crowd and save himself.
The incident may well be over but it does raise many questions and points about the manner in which the war on drugs is being carried out in Goa. Firstly, there is absolutely no doubt that the Narcotics Control Bureau’s presence and its work is critical to the operations since the NCB functions independent of the state government, except when it has to take logistical support as it did on Saturday when the team went to Arambol to conduct the raid. There is also an unspoken distance between the NCB and the state’s Anti Narcotics Cell because their footprint covers the same area. While the NCB believes that local influences in Goa, compromises the state police, the latter has a bit of a disdain of the NCB sleuths. The local police feels that the NCB does not have enough ground information to investigate. All this is strictly under wraps though.
The truth lies somewhere in between. In many villages in the northern coastal belt, the local economy runs on businesses which may not be entirely legit and drugs is just one of them. Therefore even if the village sees an unknown person in civilian clothes arguing with a shack owner who allegedly stocks and sells drugs, it is the ‘outsider’ who will have to face the wrath of locals, even if he happens to be a cop without his uniform.
But what is also alarming is that, pending the details of what happened in Arambol on Saturday, there is mounting evidence of the local logistical and other support provided to the non obvious fronts of the drug trade. Local shack owners, the local police or the anti drug authorities, at a local level, are loathe to do a total crackdown on local establishments, even though they are aware of their drug linkages. This is where the role of the NCB becomes all the more important since it can function without local interference. But even as SP Ranjan had sought staff from Mapusa Police Station to conduct this narcotics raid with three police constables and one lady constable, he found it difficult to cut through this local ring of support.
In fact Arambol became a mini -Srinagar with a mob of locals who were even pelting stones.
It is therefore virtually impossible for the war on drugs to even commence unless that state agencies and the NCB work very closely together sharing local information liberally without compromising the overall interest. And this over all interest has to be the eradication of drugs form the shores and hinterland, irrespective of who is running the drug racket.
The era of isolation has to end right now, if a joint effort against drugs needs to bear fruit.