Pubdate: Mon, 26 Jan 2009
Source: Hindustan Times (India)
Copyright: 2009, Hindustan Times Ltd.
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Chandigarh - Catching drug peddlers was a job entrusted to Indian Police
Service (IPS) officer Shajji Mohan. His switchover to the other side and
being caught with 12 kg heroin in a Mumbai suburb has left everyone
dumbstruck in Chandigarh.

The Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Sunday arrested Mohan with the
drug consignment, estimated to be worth over Rs.120 million in the open
market, from an undisclosed location in Oshiwara, a north-west Mumbai
suburb, ATS chief KP Raghuvanshi told mediapersons in Mumbai.

The tip-off leading to his arrest was given by a constable, who was also
arrested in a narcotics case earlier, the official said.

Belonging to the IPS batch of 1995 in the Jammu and Kashmir cadre, Mohan
was the zonal director of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Chandigarh. He
was transferred recently to Mumbai as deputy director in the Enforcement
Directorate, Mumbai.

Mohan was brought before a magistrate on Sunday afternoon and remanded to
police custody till January 30.

The NCB's north-western regional unit based in Chandigarh, during Mohan's
tenure in Chandigarh, had made several 'sensational' seizures of drugs,
especially heroin.

In 2008, the NCB in Chandigarh accounted for 52 kg of heroin haul.

Punjab and Chandigarh are considered major transit points for drugs,
especially heroin, coming from Afghanistan through the Pakistan border.

In 2008, various agencies, including the anti-narcotics cell of the Punjab
police, Border Security Force (BSF), the NCB and the Directorate of
Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized over 300 kg of heroin in the state. Drug
abuse among youth in Punjab is rampant.

But while the seizures by other agencies kept going up, those by the NCB
zonal unit did not match them. The drug trade from this region is said to
be worth Rs 20 billion (Rs.2,000 crore), police officials in Chandigarh

Media friendly Mohan used to claim successes in several initiatives
introduced under his tenure to curb the drug menace.

Operation Tri-city for Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali and Operation Cage
against Pakistani drug peddlers working from inside jails in Punjab were
two initiatives introduced during Mohan's tenure in Chandigarh.

"We have a certain tip-off that there are some Pakistan nationals in the
jails of Punjab who are running this international drug racket from within
the jail premises. They have an easy access to outer world through mobile
phones. Our officials are keeping an eye on them," Mohan, NCB zonal
director, had told IANS a few months ago.

The NCB under Mohan had even named over a dozen Chandigarh police
personnel for being directly linked to drugs peddling in the tri-city. The
police officials, who are being investigated, are under suspension.

The NCB came under a cloud of controversy after Lada, fiance of Israeli
national Lior Avi Ben Moyal, who was arrested by NCB officials February
2005 on charges of smuggling narcotics, levelled serious charges against
Mohan and other NCB officials.

Lada claimed that she had evidence that NCB officials had confessed that
Moyal was picked up from Panipat city in Haryana but shown as arrested in
Chandigarh with a drug haul. She accused the NCB officials of demanding
money to let off Moyal, and sought a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
probe into the matter.

Leading human rights lawyer Ranjan Lakhanpal had said that the
"confessions" of the NCB officials were genuine.

Moyal had mysteriously 'escaped' from the NCB custody in Chandigarh after
assaulting two armed officials but was caught soon after by a local lawyer
who spotted him near the university campus.
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