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NCB to propose use of drones for checking network, trade of drugs


NEW DELHI: The Narcotics Control Bureau will be suggesting the government to use drones for checking cultivation and manufacture of illegal drugs, this newspaper has learnt. Incidentally, there has been an increase in drug trafficking, particularly in the Northeast states.

Officials in the intelligence and security establishment said smuggling of narcotics is a major revenue source for the Northeast insurgent groups which have of late become active in targeting security forces engaged in anti-smuggling operations.

As many as 173 violent incidents were reported till October 31, an increase of around 31 per cent from last year when insurgents were involved in 132 cases. NCB chief SN Pradhan conveyed this fact to other stakeholders recently at  a meeting of the Narco Coordination Centre (NCORD), which was attended by IB, Central Armed Police Forces, RPF and police forces from Northeast. The Narcotics and Affairs Border, Manipur had mooted the idea to use drones for surveillance. 

At present, the government policy does not allow the use of drones for identification and survey of illicit cultivation. Pradhan said the NCB would take up the matter with the MoEF and Department of Science and Technology. The meeting discussed the flourishing of clandestine Methamphetamine and heroin labs in the Northeast and the involvement of Myanmar nationals in such activities was highlighted as a cause of concern, sources said. 

The People’s Liberation Army in Manipur, which was behind the November 13 attack on a convoy of Assam Rifles, is also believed to be operating from Myanmar. “The PLA is indulging in extortion and drug trafficking activities and the recent ambush in Manipur shows that drug trafficking is as much a national security threat as terrorism, Naxalism and organised crime. The use of drones to combat illicit drug cultivation will give a big boost to security agencies in handling the overall security situation,” a senior government functionary said.

It was also decided that NCORD will push for more forensic labs, special courts in the Northeast for fast tracking cases. “Due to the lack of forensic infrastructure in the region, police and other agencies suffer delays in filing charge sheets, which is leading to less convictions in NDPS cases,” said an IG-rank police officer who attended the meeting.