[ORF] Narco-Terrorism in India

narco terror

Central Idea

  • Recently 2,500 kilograms of methamphetamine worth around ₹ 12,000 crore was seized from a vessel in Indian waters along the Kerala coast.
  • Soon after that, NIA conducted raids and searches across more than a 100 locations in six states in connection with the smuggler-gangster nexus case.
  • The raids are aimed at cracking down on the nexus between terrorists and narcotic smugglers.

What is Narco-terrorism?

  • Narco-terrorism is the intersection of the illegal drug trade and terrorism.
  • Drug trafficking organizations engage in acts of terrorism to further their illicit activities or intimidate governments and people.
  • Examples include financing terrorist groups through drug proceeds, using violence and intimidation to control drug trafficking routes and areas, and carrying out acts of terrorism to destabilize governments and societies.

Origin and Spread of Narco-terrorism

  • The origin of narco-terrorism is unclear, but it became widespread in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • Drug trafficking organizations in countries like Colombia and Peru carried out increasingly violent and sophisticated criminal and terrorist activities.
  • They finance themselves through the drug trade and use it to further terrorism, such as bombings, kidnappings, and assassinations.
narco terror

Narco-terrorism in India

  • Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab has seen a steep rise in drug trafficking in recent years.
  • Illegal drugs, including heroin and marijuana, are grown and produced in neighboring countries and smuggled into India.
  • Drug money is used to fund separatist and militant groups, contributing to ongoing terror and violent activities.

How is it flourishing in Punjab?

  • Terrain difficulties: The riverine stretches along Punjab’s border are difficult to police effectively.
  • Historic connections and provocations: There are ethnic and economic ties across the Radcliffe Line, contributing to smuggling activities.
  • Vast nexus: Seizures represent only a small fraction of the actual drugs flowing across the border.

Exploitation of Narco-terrorism by Pakistan

  • Targeting Drug-Addicted Youth: The cognitive impairment caused by drug abuse makes these individuals vulnerable to manipulation and radicalization.
  • Pushing Drugs to influence cognitive behaviour: Pakistan has accelerated its efforts to push narcotics, especially heroin. The objective is to create instability in the region, brainwash the youth, and weaken their cognitive behavior.
  • Funding Terror Activities: Narco-trade serves as a source of funding for terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir. The proceeds from drug trafficking are used to finance militant groups operating in the region.
  • Manipulation through Drug Addiction: Terror outfits manipulates drug-addicted individuals to serve their agenda. This manipulation creates a cycle of drug addiction and radicalization, further fueling the problem of narco-terrorism.

Factors contributing to such rise

  • Proximity to drug-producing regions: India’s proximity to the “Golden Crescent” (including parts of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan), provides easy access to narcotics.
  • Cross-border connections: India shares borders with countries like Pakistan, which is known for its involvement in drug trafficking.
  • Financing mechanism: Socioeconomic factors such as poverty, unemployment, and lack of opportunities can contribute to the involvement of individuals in the drug trade.
  • Corruption and weak law enforcement: Corruption within law enforcement agencies can facilitate the operations of drug trafficking networks ex. in Punjab.
  • High profits and demand: The lucrative nature of the illegal drug trade makes it an attractive source of revenue for terrorist organizations.
  • Transnational nature of the trade:  Transnational drug syndicates collaborate with terrorist organizations, facilitating the flow of drugs and funding for terrorist activities.

Security Implications

  • Criminalization of youth: Drug trafficking and abuse can lead to an increase in crime, violence, and corruption within communities. 
  • Public health concerns: Drug addiction and related health issues, such as the spread of infectious diseases through shared needles, pose significant challenges to public health systems.
  • Threat to national security: The linkages between drug trafficking networks and terrorist organizations create a complex security environment with civilian-military conflict.
  • Drain on Resources: Security forces, intelligence agencies, and law enforcement entities need to dedicate substantial human resources, equipment, and funding to effectively counter narco-terrorism.

Efforts to Combat Narco-terrorism

(1) Rehabilitation Programs and Counselling Centers:

  • The government has allocated funds for drug rehabilitation measures and established counselling centers across all districts.
  • Rehabilitation facilities have been set up under the National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction.

(2) Operation Sadbhavana

  • The Indian Army has implemented Operation Sadbhavana, which includes de-addiction counseling centers and awareness camps.
  • De-addiction counselling centers help drug-addicted youth, while awareness camps aim to educate the public about the dangers of drug abuse.
  • The army conducts drug awareness camps periodically to caution people against the use of drugs.

(3) Nasha Mukt J&K Campaign:

  • The campaign, launched by LG, aims to make Jammu and Kashmir drug-free.
  • The “Zero Tolerance Policy” of the state police and anti-narcotics task force has been praised for its effectiveness.
  • Continued vigilance by security forces and agencies is crucial to eliminate the nexus between criminals and Pakistan-sponsored terror modules.

Recommendations to curb narco-terrorism

  • Strengthening ED: ED’s jurisdiction should be improved and extended to monitor terrorist financing and money laundering. By investigating the hawala network operated by Pakistan ED can cut off the funding sources of narco-terrorism.
  • Anti-Drone Technology: Pakistan utilizes drones to transport narcotics. There is a need to enhance anti-drone technology along the Line of Control (LOC) and the international border.

Way forward

  • Multilateral Cooperation: Enhance international cooperation and information sharing to disrupt drug trafficking networks and dismantle the nexus between drug trade and terrorism.
  • Advanced Technology Integration: Invest in advanced technologies to enhance detection and interception of drug shipments, monitor financial transactions, and secure border areas.
  • Community Engagement and Rehabilitation: Focus on community awareness, education, and rehabilitation programs to prevent drug abuse and support individuals struggling with addiction.
  • Target Financing Networks: Strengthen efforts to track and disrupt the financing networks supporting narco-terrorism through collaboration with financial institutions and international organizations.
  • Cross-Border Intelligence Sharing: Strengthen intelligence-sharing mechanisms and conduct joint operations with countries sharing borders affected by drug trafficking.
  • De-radicalization: Implement sustainable economic development programs to provide viable alternatives to communities involved in the drug trade.

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