Are Pathankot attacks the tip of a larger problem?

New Delhi: As Gurdaspur SP Salwinder Singh revealed the presence of a jeweller friend in his vehicle on the night when he was allegedly abducted by the terrorists, who stormed into the Pathankot airbase, questions are now being raised that the Pathankot terror attacks were just the tip of the larger problem that is eating the state inside out.

According to a new study conducted by the AIIMS, Delhi, opioids worth Rs 7,500 crore are consumed in Punjab every year. Of these, heroin has a share of Rs 6,500 crore.

Reports suggest that almost all the heroin that comes in the state is through Pak border and is supplied by smugglers allegedly aided by ISI. The figures so far have been consistent with the report.

Last year, BSF seized over 340 Kg of heroin along the Indo-Pak border in Punjab. It also arrested 91 people in the same year for drug smuggling and crossing over the border illegally.

The investigators suspect that gold is being used as a currency to pay for the drug consignments. Alternatively, they suspect that the money from drug peddling is being used for purchasing gold, especially in regard with the number of jewelry shops that have mushroomed in the small districts of the state in recent years.

According to a report by the Economic Times, there are nearly 450 jewelers in Pathankot district, 200 of which are in the city itself. What has shocked the National Investigation Agency (NIA) investigators is such proliferation of jewelers in a small district like Pathankot, which lacks the avenues to attract investments.

While some have credited frequent purchases by the people in adjoining J&K and Himachal Pradesh for the unusual number of jewelers in the district, others suspect the role of small-time jewelers in facilitating the drug problem and safe-housing the money earned through drug peddling.

Punjab has for long remained an easy gateway for drugs smuggling from across the border. The state also has a large number of riverine stretches that remain vulnerable to infiltration.

At a time when the Border Security Force is being questioned for its lack in security along the international border and drug addiction is eating the state alive, was Pathankot terror attack just another attempt in destabilizing the security in India or was it a cold and calculated attempt to strengthen the malicious drug-problem that is multiplying more rapidly than a virus?

By Shweta Ganjoo

News24 Bureau