21 Nov 2021  |   07:25am IST

‘Pablo Escobar’ is not a person but a system in Goa

No political party has had the will to remove Goa of drugs; In fact, they have endorsed it; The police, politician, and drug dealer nexus have made Goa a place of trade, distribution, and consumption
‘Pablo Escobar’ is not a person  but a system in Goa

Pablo Escobar, arguably one of the world’s most infamous drug kingpins, whose cartel’s reach was across countries and governments and whose business was more than the annual budget of many countries, has become a subject of a political narrative in the North Coastal belt.

One ex-MLA called a current MLA “Pablo Escobar” accusing him of purportedly turning a blind eye to or encouraging and endorsing the flourishing drug trade in the coastal belt. The MLA retorted by stating that the ex-MLA should be thrown into a pond full of crocodiles (again referring to stories about the way Escobar used to deal with enemies).

The election season “Escobar” exchange cannot hide that the system has Pablo Escobars at every level

For over two decades and even beyond this has been the case:

(1) Drug gangs and their system of peddlers have existed, each working in a particular territory

(2) Some staff in police stations have worked with or supported those in the drug system

(3) Local “Pablo Escobars” have controlled their territory organized parties and sold drugs

A parallel drug economy has taken over North Goa, destroyed lives, and given control and money to gangs political backers

Can Goa ever forget the nerve-chilling incidents of 2013 when an alleged drug kingpin from an African country was butchered, reportedly by a local drug gang and the ambulance carrying his dead body to GMC was stopped and body placed on the highway? It took years for 51 Africans involved in multiple cases related to the incident, to be deported. Many just stayed back, going back into the same system, mixing with the same locals and lower-level cops and of course sections of the political leadership.

Does Goa have drugs? Is this even a question? Here are some facts

From January to June of 2021, Rs 2 crore of narcotics and about 90 kgs of drugs were seized. One is not even considering the amounts not seized or put back in the system after seizure.

In 2020 drug seizures went up by 300% between January and March as compared to the same period in 2019.

The seized drugs, according to news reports, included MDMA, ecstasy tablets, LSD, cocaine, charas, ganja, opium, amphetamine  and heroin. In February, the police recovered 710g of MDMA worth over Rs 71 lakh, found concealed in the rented room of reportedly a Turkish army commando Murat Tas at Arambol.

In 2018, ganja was seized in 169 police raids conducted by multiple agencies including local police stations, Crime Branch, and the Anti-Narcotics Cell of the Goa Police. In the same year, 51 instances of hashish (charas) seizure and 20 and 13 seizures of LSD and MDMA (both synthetic drugs) seizures were respectively reported.

In 2019, when ganja seizures topped the drug seizure list with 151 cases, while hashish, LSD and MDMA cases were 35, 11, and 21 respectively, as per news reports.

Ganja: The easiest to grow and sell

In 2020, the state witnessed 100 cases related to ganja seizures, followed by hashish (31), LSD (17), and MDMA (21).

Ganja plantations have mushroomed all over the state. In a report in the IANS, 11 such plantations have been busted by police agencies in the North Goa coast. Ganja plantations and cultivations in several apartments have sprung up.

What has the system done? Nothing. Postings are prices the highest in the drug belt

It is openly known that some key postings in the drug belt are the most expensive but the buyer of the post recovers so quickly from the system that the price is never unaffordable. The Anti-Narcotics Cell is also not a free bird but a caged parrot. So how can this change? Herald has been saying this repeatedly. The police and investigative agencies must be delinked from the active control of the Chief Minister and the cabinet. Their selection of key officials must be done professionally. The CM or Home Minister should only review the success of cases from time to time and have no control over transfers and postings of officials.

There should be fast track system to investigate all cases involving any nexus between the system and the drug lobby. Those under investigation should be immediately suspended without pay and dismissed if guilty. At the same time, nobody should be victimized due to political vendetta.

Most importantly drug money cannot be used to fund politicians. Which party can promise that?

Not a single party in any election has pledged to make Goa free of drugs. Lives are getting destroyed, children’s futures are gone, in villages, houses are being rented out to cultivate drugs and make drug dealers stay. The basic ethos of Goan village life has been finished almost beyond repair. Instead of addressing this jointly, politicians are playing a blame game when each one of them has contributed to what can be termed an absolute tragedy. They all have blood on their hands. Rather than realise, admit, and do something about this, they have made this into a game of blame, a game that will only last till the last day of campaigning after which all will be forgotten.

Is this the future we want for your children?

Let every policeperson, politician and others who have in the smallest way contributed to the drug menace of Goa answer this. Is this what you would want for your children or grandchildren? The answer to this is no and if there is still some conscience left, let the system and the people in it take it upon themselves to stop this. And a strong political will only help this.


Idhar Udhar