Shah, who said his government treats drug users as victims, rebutted the criticism that the Border Security Force, Seema Sashastra Bal and Assam Rifles being tasked to deal with the drug traffickers marked an encroachment on the jurisdiction of states and said those behind the criticism are also the ones who target the Centre over smuggling of drugs. “Protection of borders is the primary responsibility of the Centre. If the agencies deployed at the border are not empowered to deal with smuggling cases then how do we expect them to deal with the challenge?” he asked.
“We need to stop the entry of drugs through borders, ports and airports. The revenue department, NCB and anti-narcotics agencies have to work against the menace being on same page,” he said.
Participating in a discussion in Parliament on the drug-abuse problem, Shah said, “We have mapped the drug network across states. No matter how big the criminal is, in the next two years there will be a situation that they will be behind bars. The government will leave no stone unturned in achieving the target of ‘drugs free’ India.” In response to a few members seeking to know about action against drug addicts, Shah said, “Our government’s policy is clear. Those consuming drugs are victims, we should be sensitive towards them and give them a conducive atmosphere for rehabilitation. But those involved in drug trafficking should not be spared.”
The discussion was marked by Shah raising his voice and objecting to interventions by members like Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of Congress and TMC veteran Saugata Roy. Shah said there is consensus in India that the challenge should be handled with a collective approach.
After the discussion concluded, Speaker About Birla read out a pledge of the House on eradicating drug addiction from India, which was supported by both benches.
He took exception to opposition members describing Gujarat as the hub of narco-trade by citing the seizures made from the state. Stating that a software led to seizure of drugs worth Rs 3,000 crore from Mudra port, Shah said seizures are an incorrect metric to judge a state government because these, to the contrary, “underline its effectiveness”.
“If non-recovery of drugs is to be used as the basis then Punjab will qualify to be a drugs-free state when everyone knows it is the worst-affected,” he said, adding that trafficking happens through Gujarat because it is a border state and is also home to ports.
He said the issue of drug menace is a serious one as profits from this trade are also used to finance acts of terror. He said the presence of dirty money also hollows the economy, adding new technologies are being devised to curb crypto and use of hawala network for smuggling of drugs.