After the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM)-led Pathankot air force station attack in January 2016, dna visited Punjab in order to explore, among other things, the drug angle to the attack.dna spoke to a number residents in villages notorious for drug abuse. On one such visit, the tour guide, himself a drug peddler, intended to show routes used by syndicates.”There is a Punjabi movie about the drug problem here. You should watch it,” said the local peddler, who was under the impression that this dna correspondent was a potential client.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Months after this gracious advice by a person, who himself was part of Punjab’s ‘drug problem’, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) asked the makers of Udta Punjab to remove all references to the state as well as other areas in Punjab. While references to Jalandhar, Chandigarh, Amritsar and Ludhiana were asked to be removed, there are dozens of places, especially those bordering Pakistan, that continue to be plagued by drugs and yet remain almost anonymous.One such place is Bhadroya, a village at the border of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, and is perhaps one of the most important junctions used by cross-border drug syndicates of Punjab. “To truly understand Punjab’s drug problem, one needs to see how things work in Bhadroya,” said a Damtal- based advocate.With a population of less than 2,000, Bhadroya falls under Nurpur tehsil of Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh and is located 5 km from the Pathankot air force station.While villages like Narot Jaimal Singh, Tash, Pharwal and Bamiyal are some places which serve as bases where chitta (local drug) is transported and stored briefly before its subsequent distribution, Bhadroya serves as the nerve centre of drug syndicates – even with the presence of army cantonments and BSF camps in Pathankot,Bhadroya is important for its ‘strategic location’ as drugs that are imported to India through the international border are forwarded not only to different parts of Punjab but also to Himachal and the national capital.Soon after the attack, the Himachal police swept the area ‘clean’ in multiple raids and had rid this village from drug dealers who were operating from one-room hutments built with the only purpose of selling drugs.”Both the Himachal and Punjab police have cracked down on drug smuggling after the attack but it’s a matter of time. There is a lot of media pressure but once everything dies down, business will be as usual,” a local drug dealer told dna en route to avail chitta.His main supplier is a woman known as Bhabhi and given the ‘hard area’ in which she supplies drugs, the woman is considered to be a tough nut to crack among drug smugglers.dna had requested a meeting with Bhabhi after taking the local peddler into confidence that this reporter wanted to sell drugs in Delhi. While waiting for a green signal from Bhabhi in a car parked on the dusty patch of road that led to Bhadroya, the meeting was cancelled after two teenagers on a motorcycle, who had been following our vehicle, informed that Bhabhi had some last-minute work.”You should have come before the attack. Things were better,” a drug dealer told dna. While travelling to Punjab’s villages, one encounters a multitude of police checkpoints and one would assume that, being a high-security border area, transporting drugs through these villages would be difficult. This, however, seems not to be the case. The network seems to have become sophisticated in the past two decades when Pakistani drug peddlers would use simple methods of transportation.The ‘package’ would be thrown over the fence or the same would be handed over after cutting through the electric fencing. In some places, where the border is completely porous, the package would be simply handed over. But as the trade grew, methods of transportation became elaborate.The International Border (IB), which divides India and Pakistan, falls on massive tracts of farming land. There are patches of farming land owned by Indians, which fall on both sides of the IB. Technically, the farming land on the other side of IB is Indian and farmers are even issued a special ID to work on the fields.The pipes meant to water the farms have long been used by drug dealers to transport their product. dna also learnt that pipes have been laid under the fence that divides India and Pakistan. The same pipes are used for transportation is no surprise to anyone here.This was confirmed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as well as a deputy superintendent of Punjab police in Pathankot. While the Punjab administration continues to face criticism over its alleged inaction, the police in the neighbouring state are hoping against hope.”This is not the first time we have conducted raids. We have been doing so for many years. We are determined to stop the influx of drugs into Himachal,” said a senior police officer posted in Damtal area of Himachal. “We will protect Himachal,” the officer said.
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