In a major combing operation on Thursday midnight, 80 policemen from city crime branch surrounded the railway premises between Masjid Bunder and Byculla stations to apprehend Nigerian drug peddlers, who reportedly operate in that area. Taken off guard, the peddlers started running helter-skelter with policemen giving them a chase. In the melee that followed, eight policemen were injured. The police, in fact, fired three rounds. While two Nigerians were caught, 20 others gave the chasers the slip.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The arrested duo has been identified as Mumbai residents Ifunanya Ginika Minike (37) and Ique Chikwneni Emaniyal (24). Police have seized 40 grams of cocaine from them.Joint commissioner of police Atulchandra Kulkarni said, “We had received information that illegal activities were taking place on the railway tracks between Masjid Bunder and Dockyard Road stations. The people involved are highly conversant with the topography of the area and the numbers in which they move are unusually high. It would have been difficult for a small police unit to take any decisive action. So, we decided to come down heavily on this group of peddlers. Proper survey of area was done and an elaborate plan was made.”The police had learnt that the Nigerians come in taxis after midnight and peddle drugs on the flyover that connects Dongri and Pydhonie. The consumers would come on bikes and cars, pick the contraband and leave. “It’s a quick affair. Since people involved are foreigners, they were easily distinguishable,” he said.In this operation, instead of Anti-Narcotics Cell (ANC) officials, regular crime branch units were pressed into service. “In the intervening night of Thursday and Friday, after midnight, we deployed 80 policemen, including officers. We used private vehicles so that we don’t raise an alarm and went in small groups. The plan was already discussed as to how we will be cutting off the railway tracks in the Masjid Bunder and Dockyard Road side, how we will cut off the over bridge which leads to Dongri and P D’mello Road etc.,” he said.Around 20 to 25 peddlers had arrived in the Wadi Bunder area. “The police party was armed because we apprehended some kind of retaliation from them. As the operation began, the peddlers started running. One of them jumped off the 30ft-high flyover, landed on the tracks below and started running. They pelted stones on the police party. Eight policemen got injured. The police fired three rounds, but no one was injured. We managed to arrest two persons. There was no light in the area where the operation was on,” said deputy commissioner of police Dhananjay Kulkarni.The seized cocaine is valued at Rs2.5 lakh in the international market. The police have also seized seven mobile phones, a digital weighing machine and Rs44,000 in cash. An offence has been registered in Dongri police station in this regard. Minike had come out of jail in April last year and is the kingpin of the group, police said.”They were very violent. For each peddler, we had dedicated four policemen, but still they managed to run away. They ran till Byculla on the tracks and we pursued them, but movement of trains made it difficult for us,” said police inspector Ajay Sawant.Asked why only two peddlers could be nabbed, JCP Kulkarni said, “I didn’t want to risk the lives of my men on the tracks. Every second there was a train movement. I decided that even if a couple of them are caught, there would be no problem as others can be identified later. They were highly mobile. They got on to the tracks through nearby wall punctures and nearby roads. Tracks were their escape routes.””We will now request the railway authorities to install lights there. We would also coordinate with other agencies such as BMC and railway police to discuss this issue on a broader scale,” he added.

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Mumbai drug war reaches a flashpoint, raid leaves 8 cops injured; 2 Nigerian arrested