Heroin network plan may have been hatched in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail: Indian agencies
Indian enforcement agencies are quite certain that it was in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail where the foundation of a network through which heroin in large quantities was being pushed into India via maritime route was laid.
It was in Tihar jail that two key figures – Suresh Bhatia and Mohammed Nauman – arrested by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) after the seizure of 191 kg of the stuff at Nhava Sheva Port in Mumbai on August 9 — had first met.
According to the enforcement agencies, Bhatia and Nauman were part of the syndicate that had already pushed three consignments using the same modus operandi.
The enforcement agencies are also investigating the suspected links of Nauman with some ISI-backed elements in Pakistan.
“Nauman runs a non-government organization named Jai Hind Sewa Kendra, based in Delhi’s Yojana Vihar, which provides legal help to the Pakistan nationals lodged in Indian jails and assists them in deportation. The NGO has been receiving foreign funds despite the fact that it is not registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act for the purpose,” an official said.
The agencies have found that Nauman was married to a woman from Pakistan in 2007. She recently got Indian citizenship. “We are verifying if it was an ISI-sponsored arrangement to maintain cover,” said the official.
Bhatia was serving a sentence for offences under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and Nauman was in prison in connection with a fraud case when they came in contact with each other a few years ago.
“Bhatia later came out on parole and was on an extended parole, while Nauman was released after he served four years of jail term,” the official said.
Mahendra Nigam, another person arrested by the DRI in Delhi, was also lodged in the jail around the same time. As per initial reports, the main accused persons had hired a godown from Nigam to store the consignments.
Two Customs house agents, Meenanath Bodake and Kondibhau Gunjal, were earlier arrested in Mumbai in the same case.
“The latest consignment was brought from Gwadar in Pakistan to Mumbai via Chabahar in Iran to evade detection. The cargo was declared to be of an Ayurvedic product, mulethi (licorice). The drugs was concealed in plastic pipes painted to resemble bamboo. This was the fourth consignments that reached the Jawaharlal Nehru Port [also known as Nhava Sheva],” the official said.
The consignment was booked under a fictitious name, Ghulam Mohiuddin, shown as a resident of Kandahar in Afghanistan, for exports. The importer firm was declared as Sarvim Exports, located at Derawal Nagar in Delhi and said to be owned by Bhatia.
Based on recent detections, the agencies believe that Pakistan-based syndicates are smuggling heroin into India mostly by sea, using dhows and also under the guise of imports.