On 9 December 2008 Jodhpur police arrested three persons of Tanzanian origin, Adam Mohammad, Adam Godwin, and Umar Usuf along with 20kgs of heroin. Subsequently, on 2 January 2009 Jhanwar police seized ten sacks (386kgs) near Doda Post in Dhawa village, the cost of which has been estimated at three and a half lakhs. On the same day Pratapgarh police arrested a person in Hathunia with Brown Sugar worth one and a half crore. These are just isolated instances that have appeared in the local newspaper over the last one month.
The reports that are appearing in newspapers speak volumes on the emerging threats to national security in India and is of major strategic concern. Police investigations have raised the curtain from the network of illicit narcotics trade that has developed in western Rajasthan. Subsequently, eight more people have been arrested and it is revealed that several people in the border areas are involved in drug smuggling. The slow and gradual development that is taking place in west Rajasthan must draw the attention of policy makers both at the national and state level as it is not merely a law and order problem. The implications of these developments are several.
First, an analysis of newspaper reports suggest that west Rajasthan is fast becoming a transit point in the network of international trade and movement for narcotics, fake currency, and explosives. Afghanistan is world famous and is at the top according to CIA Factbook for cultivation of drugs. The drugs that are produced in Afghanistan, reach the international market via Pakistan and India among other routes and it is reasonable to believe that the transport network of Pakistan must be in use for bringing it to the western border of India. Within India, border districts like Bikaner, Barmer, Sri Ganganagar and cities like Jodhpur and Jaipur are used as transit points.
A second important ramification is that the money raised through narcotics trade, is used for financing terrorist activities. The cultivation of drugs increased sharply under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, is a fact that establishes the use of drug money by rogue states and non-state actors to finance terrorist activities. Through several reports in the past the strong nexus and proximity between the international market for drugs and smuggling of arms have been advocated and established.
Third, the strategic importance of a city like Jodhpur has increased after the Jaipur blasts in 2008. There was a letter on New Year's eve at Jodhpur that threatened that there would soon be blasts at key crowded places of Jodhpur. The administration shall be committing a grievous mistake by taking it lightly. If drugs can cross borders defying all security arrangements, in all probability arms will also reach cities of west Rajasthan and other parts of the country.
A fourth startling fact is the mismanagement and porosity of the 1,070km-long Indo-Pak international border in Rajasthan. According to newspaper reports the barbed wires and poles on the border are in a dilapidated condition and at several places on account of dust storms, have become obliterated. It has made it easier for drug smugglers to cross the border without any obstacle. This reveals both the ignorance and casual approach of the security agencies and the Border Security Force. Central and State governments must understand the vulnerability of the border and counter this immediately.
A fifth cause of concern is that many of the intelligence personel or spies are on the pay-role of the Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) or terrorist organizations within Pakistan. As per reports many spies are also involved in drug smuggling or it is taking place with their support. Most disturbing fact is that if these spies can compromise their patriotism and honesty for small sums of money then their vulnerability suggests that they can easily become a puppet in the hands of terrorists. The entire intelligence and counter smuggling networks need to be totally revamped before further damage takes place.
Last but not least, another perturbing dimension of west Rajasthan becoming a transit point for illicit narcotics trade, is their impact on cities like Jodhpur, Jaipur and Kota. Already major educational hubs these cities house large numbers of young people who will potentially come under this rapidly spreading influence and create both serious security, humanitarian and social crisis.
Therefore, it is high time that both the central and state governments learn a lesson from these arrests of drug smugglers and analyze it by linking it to national security and strategic concerns. It is a serious development from the perspective of social, political and national security. The government needs to urgently revamp the security agencies, intelligence organizations and border management establishments.