NIA empowered to probe narcotic cases: crackdown in Mumbai?

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 9/24/2020 11:31:08 PM

NEW DELHI, Sep 24: The Government has quietly expanded the scope of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), its anti-terror arm, to probe the cases coming under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 through an extraordinary Gazette notification issued on September 22.
The notification signed by Under Secretary Biswajit Sarkar in the Revenue Department of the Finance Ministry says NIA inspectors and seniors can conduct the narcotic probes "within the area of their jurisdiction."
It uses Section 53(1) of the narcotics law that empowers the government to empower any officer with "the powers of a police station for the investigation of the offences under this Act.
Originally set up as a federal anti-terror probe agency a year after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks to probe the terror crimes with the inter-state or international ramifications, the NIA was given more powers last year to probe cases related to human trafficking, counterfeit currency notes and cyber terrorism, all related to terrorism, but narcotic cases were still kept out of its purview.
Officials say the NIA has been brought into picture in the narcotic cases to let it step into investigation of the larger issue of the drug-related crimes in the Bollywood with suspected links to the syndicates in foreign shores.
The linkages of the Bollywood personalities with the drug consumption and their involvement with the drug syndicates has come to the fore following the Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) probe into the drug peddling network in connection with the mysterious death of film star Sushant Singh Rajput in his Bandra, Mumbai, flat on June 14, which is under the CBI probe.
Two central agencies are already probing different aspects of the actor's death, but the Centre also brought in the NIA to probe the alleged patronage of some ruling Shiv Sena leaders to the syndicate running the drug racket in Mumbai for many years, a Home Ministry official said. He said the NIA unit based in Mumbai has been asked to crack down on all aspects of the narcotic racket and work independent of the Mumbai Police who may try to sabotage because of it being under control of the Maharashtra government.
While the CBI is probing the criminal aspects of Sushant's death, the Enforcement Directorate is probing the money laundering aspect in the case that was flagged from the drug connections in Bollywood.
Officials say the empowerment of the NIA for probes into the narcotic cases will also help the agency to bust the linkages between the terror modules and narco-terrorism, especially related to the syndicates in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab as also in the Northeast and the Naxal aras.



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