Should the fight against drug trafficking be a 24/7 soap opera?
Following the death of rising Bollywood film star Sushant Singh Rajput in mysterious circumstances that have yet to be conclusively explained, a number of relatively young but successful Bollywood film actresses active on social media were suddenly called by the NCB to appear for questioning for the alleged possession, supply and use of drugs.
Some were interrogated for long hours, multiple times, and ended up in jail until they were released on bail. Extensive 24/7 coverage by TV stations and media reports allegedly based on NCB briefings suggested that these Bollywood celebrities had attended parties where drugs were being used; they may have possessed 5 to 35 grams of cannabis and regularly obtain these drugs from suppliers who may have links with an international drug cartel.
So the NCB was trying to unearth an international drug supply chain and hoping to blow it up by Bollywood movie stars. Well, who would object if that was the primary focus and the effort was based on solid evidence, not motivated by some other agenda.
These investigations disrupted the filming schedules and work of the suspects, caused anxiety for them and their families, resulted in financial losses and projected them as if they were not film actors but petty drug dealers and habitual drug addicts.
In fact, the saga of daily briefings and breaking news tarnishes the international image of the Indian film industry which, together with the entertainment industry and digital media, generates an annual turnover of $ 3 billion and employs about 5 million people. directly and indirectly.
Unfortunately, during interrogations, NCB sources daily leak details of how one particular actress got scared and cried and how another was disparaged by the area manager for arriving late. But the public is not informed of the final outcome of the entire high-octane soap opera.
So far, the BCN has not made public details of the total amount of the drug recovered from movie personalities, its value, any links to international cartels, and details of charges or convictions. The BCN gives the impression that this is a law in itself, with no liability for anyone.
The international drug trafficking industry was estimated at $ 32 billion in 2019. Considerable amounts of drugs are transferred through India due to its proximity to the Golden Triangle of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand and countries forming the golden crescent of Pakistan, Afghanistan. and Iranian.
The Punjab, India’s breadbasket, has been devastated by drug addiction: in 67% of rural households in Punjab, at least one member is addicted to drugs. UP tops the list for injecting drugs, followed by Delhi and West Bengal. The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment estimated in 2019 that there were 3.6 million cannabis users (charas, ganja and bhang), 63 lakh heroin users and 11 users of cannabis. opium lakh in India.
Therefore, shouldn’t the NCB be focusing its efforts and energies on tackling this threat, rather than focusing on glamorous movie actors in surveys that are attracting huge media publicity but have yet to give concrete results?
Who would know better than Sunjay Dutt what addiction is and how it has affected his family. He was totally out of action; his father, Sunil Dutt was devastated. But he sought the best medical help he could to get his son out of drug addiction and was successful.
All of the actresses from Deepika Padukone to Ananya Pande are wanted actors with multiple films to shoot. If they were drug addicts, would they be able to concentrate on their work? Won’t their producers notice their addiction? Who would want to sign an addict as a hero or heroine? Were the accused movie actors even subjected to medical tests to establish if they were addicted to drugs?
The BCN is not a private agency; it is managed by public money. Thus, the public has the right to demand a performance audit of high profile BCN cases involving movie personalities.
If there is compelling evidence that they are drug traffickers in cahoots with international drug cartels, they should be prosecuted and punished. But if these are cases where some of them smoke weed on a film party once in a blue moon, then there is no need to make a mountain out of a molehill.
As the Union’s Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has rightly suggested, people possessing a very small amount of drugs that they might have taken from time to time should be treated humanely as criminals. victims rather than hardcore drug suppliers. We shouldn’t make criminals of them.
In the late 1960s, when the hippie phenomenon was at its peak, in my alma mater, Allahabad University, which was called East Oxford and accounted for about 30% of the total staff recruited every year, dozens of students could be seen with long hair and a little chilm in hand to eat ganja!
Fashion did not last long. Over the past 20 years, half a dozen cabinet secretaries have come from Allahabad University. Fortunately, there was no BCN in Allahabad at the time.
Shahrukh Khan is not the son of Dhirubhai Ambani who inherited a business empire. From a TV series titled Fauji, he achieved his current iconic status through hard work and talent. He entertained millions of Indians with his films. Don’t present him as the father of a drug dealer!
On Holi in Mathura, Brindavan, Varanasi and Haridwar thousands of Indians descend large glasses of bhang much stronger than ganja. Go after them!
Some BCN agents might boast at home that they made a certain actress cry in front of them. You have your kicks. Now get on your feet!
Surendra Kumar retired from Indian foreign service