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Drug smuggling hits Afghan exports to India

Drug smuggling hits Afghan exports to India

Aug 21, 2019 - 15:47

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The seizure of drugs concealed in commercial consignments from Afghanistaninfo-icon to India has created problems for Afghan traders.

Indian police captured several drug smugglers, including two Afghans -- this last July, for trafficking heroin worth billions of rupees to that country.

Afghan traders say their goods were thoroughly searched before their entry into India and the time-consuming process damages their commodities.

A trader, Mujahid Afghan, told Pajhwok Afghan News that exports to India -- both through land routes and by air -- were minutely checked.

Afghanistan and India should jointly resolve the problem to avoid damage to commercial links between the two countries, he suggested.

Another Afghan entrepreneur, who wished to go unnamed, said a man from Afghanistan was detained in connection with drug smuggling to India. The detainee was not a businessman but smuggled narcotics in the garb of exporters to India.

Some circles inside the country aid smugglers and certain neighbours did not want Afghanistan to have good relations with India, he alleged.

“Indian police carefully check our goods, tear apart our cartons and leave our goods including fresh fruits damaged. We have to re-arrange the cartons. Most of the time, we cannot find new packages there,” he explained.

Fruit merchants from Kandahar also spoke of mounting problems in exports after an Afghan named Ahmad Shah was arrested in connection with smuggling heroin to India.

Eng. Abdul Baqi Bina, deputy head of the Kandahar chamber of commerce, confirmed Shah was not an exported and that he had recently started business.

Many traders have a business background of 40 or 50 years, having inherited trade from their fathers, he added.

Shah recently began exports of goods, probably in an effort to smuggle narcotics abroad, the official believed.

The suspect had placed heroin in packages of cumin seeds for smuggling to India, he charged, the man was from western Herat province.

“Problems for Afghan traders have increased after this case because Indian police now check all goods from Afghanistan -- a lengthy process that harms goods,” Bina continued.

Indian police reserved the right to check commodities, but they should not tear packages apart; they could search cartons using advanced technology, Bina argued.

Abdul Nafe Sarwari, commercial attaché at the Afghan Consulate in Mumbai, acknowledged problems had surfaced for Afghan traders after the smuggling case.

He said the issue was resolved somehow as a result of efforts by the Afghan embassy in New Delhi. Subsequently, the Afghans are exporting their items to India in a smooth manner.

According to Indian media reports, around 260 jute bags containing 130 kg of soaked and dried Afghan heroin were seized from a container in the Customs Bonded area in Maharashtra.

The drug was transported in a basil seed consignment. It originated from Islam Qala in Afghanistan's Herat and took the sea route to Mumbai via Bandar Abbas, he contended.

The bust comes a few days after the special cell recovered 200 kg of heroin from four Afghan nationals in New Delhi.

Afghan national Ahmad Shah was in charge of importing jute bags to India from Afghanistan. The bags were to be delivered to reconstitution factories in Delhi and Punjab.

Shah had been arrested in connection with smuggling but the smuggler’s nationality was yet to be ascertained, Sarwary said. It was hard to say Afghan traders were involved in smuggling, he insisted.

The official said: “We are working closely with relevant Indian organs on preventing such cases and more details will be shared with the media soon.”

Khan Jan Alkozai, deputy head of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), verified the problems being faced by Afghan business-people after the arrest of an Afghan national in connection with smuggling.

He told Pajhwok that two months back Indian police had recovered drugs from a warehouse where Indian, Iranian and Afghan goods were kept.

According to Alkozai, police had detained 25 individuals, including three Afghan nationals. The incident has led to restrictions and problems for the Afghans.

He said it remained unclear whether the drugs had been smuggled from Afghanistan or it had been placed inside the cartons elsewhere.

Alkozai recalled a container that crossed the Wagha border from Pakistaninfo-icon had been sized with one and a half kilogram of gold in India.

He claimed the drugs seized in New Delhi had been smuggled through the Chabahar Port in Iran to Dubai and then to India.

Samir Rasa, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, confirmed the checking of Afghan traders’ commodities had increased recently.

But he claimed trade with India continued in a normal manner through the air-corridor and no smuggling case had been recorded so far.

Sibghatullah Ahmadi, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the Indian government had set some regulations in the wake of the smuggling issue.

The foreign ministry in Kabul and the Afghan embassy in India would look inti the problem in case of violations of Afghans’ rights, he promised.


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