Thursday, November 6, 2008

Charas business in The “Land of The Gods” Himachal Pradesh, India

About Himachal

The Land of Himachal

Popularly known as the Devbhumi ­– "Land of the Gods", Himachal Pradesh is a beautiful hill state in northern India nestled in western Himalayas. The state is landlocked with the Tibetan plateau to the east, Jammu and Kashmir to the north, and the Punjab to the west. However the state stands apart from its neighbours in terms of its sheer topographic diversity and breathtaking pristine natural beauty. From vast tracts of high-altitude Trans-Himalayan desert to dense green deodar forests, from apple orchards to cultivated terraces, from snow capped high Himalayan mountain ranges to snow fed lakes and gushing rivers.

Brief Socio-Political History of the State

The earliest known inhabitants of the region were tribals called Dasas. Later, Aryans came and they assimilated in the tribes. In the later centuries, the hill chieftains accepted suzerainty of the Mauryan empire, the Kaushans, the Guptas and Kanuaj rulers. During the Mughal period, the Rajas of the hill states made some mutually agreed arrangements which governed their relations. In the 19th century, Ranjit Singh annexed/subjugated many of the states. When the British came, they defeated Gorkhas and entered into treaties with some Rajas and annexed the kingdoms of the others. The situation largely remained the same untill 1947. After Independence, 30 princely states of the area were united and Himachal Pradesh was formed on 15th April, 1948. On 1st November, 1966, certain areas belonging to Punjab were included in Himachal Pradesh. On 25th January, 1971, Himachal Pradesh was made a full-fledged State.

The State is bordered by Jammu & Kashmir on North, Punjab on West and South-West, Haryana on South, Uttar Pradesh on South-East and China on the East.

Himachal's illegal Charas farms

Kullu valley: CNN-IBN's Special Investigation Team brings you this first ever look at over 3,000 acres of Charas (Cannabis) fields that make Himachal Pradesh a key supplier of the drug to the world drug mafia.

Local drug dealers say that entire villages are employed in producing Charas - villages that don't even exist on the map!

These 'drug villages' are often given names that are the same as other villages so as to confuse the police.

CNN-IBN SIT: So you are saying where these fields are, there are villages as well?

Local drug dealer: Yes. Mallana has a village called Kutla. There is a new village called Kutla too.

The police on their part concede that these remote fields are hard to find. The fields are manned at a height where it's difficult for the enforcement agencies to operate and safe from the police, the local drug mafia is thriving.

And it's not just the locals who own fields. Even foreign drug dealers have their own illegal Charas fields. This was confirmed to the SIT by a local drug dealer.

CNN-IBN SIT: Do foreigners have fields up there?

Local drug dealer: Yes, they have their own fields and not one but tens of them. They have everything up there in their fields.

CNN-IBN SIT: Really? But how can foreigners buy land up there? They cannot buy land?

Local drug dealer: They come here every year, they pay a lot of money to the workers and so the owners of the field rent their fields out to foriegners.

CNN-IBN SIT: If I want to buy a field up there, how much should I pay?

Local drug dealer: For one acre that yields 40 kg, you pay Rs 10,000.

Filming undercover with drug tourists at a rave party, the SIT was even told that the police is hand in glove with them.

CNN-IBN SIT: Isn't there any police trouble?

Israeli tourist: No. The military police sometimes comes and burns one field. That doesn't matter for there are 20,000 fields out there. Malana produces 800 kg of Charas per season. Out of that, 80 kg comes to Israel.

Clearly the risk is worth the return. A gram of Charas worth Rs 25 in Kullu, fetches Rs 3,000 in Holland, which essentially means that the Hebrew and Italian signboards in Kullu are probably there to stay.

Sniffing danger on charas trail

Kullu valley: Over 3,000 acre of fertile land is being used to cultivate cannabis in the upper reaches of the Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh.

A CNN-IBN special investigation team went undercover to the valley and found that villages which don’t even exist on the map are controlled, to a large extent, by the foreign drug mafia.

It’s these cannabis – commonly known as charas - fields that make Himachal a key supplier of the drug to the world drug mafia.

Local drug dealers say that entire villages are employed in producing charas including villages that don't even exist on the map.

The villages in the drug are often given familiar names to confuse the police.

“Mallana has a village called Kutla, a lot of other villages are called Kutla,” says a middleman Sheru.

For people living in these unmapped villages on the fringes of the drug fields, rubbing charas for middlemen like Sheru is a way of life.

Apart from local villagers, the drug mafia also uses cheap Nepali labor to rub and process charas all day.

CNN-IBN: So you make it all day?

Nepali Labour: Yes.

CNN-IBN: How much do you get in a day?

Nepali Labour: Rs 120 per day.

CNN-IBN: So how much you make in a day.

Nepali Labour: Two tolas, 20 grams.

Posing as foreign drug dealers, the CNN-IBN Special Investigation Team filmed charas fields in the upper Parvati Valley, the police concede that these remote fields are hard to find.

These people are manning the fields at a height where it’s difficult for the enforcement agencies to operate. Safe from the police, the local drug mafia is thriving.

SIT: Charas trail in the Himachal

The Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh is called Lord Shiva's own country. It also may be called the charas smuggler’s paradise. CNN-IBN Correspondent Iram Mirza went on a trek through this beautiful valley and found charas farms, smugglers and a massive drugs racket.

Here is Mirza’s first person account.

My first step is to trace the charas hubs in the Parvati Valley. The first stop is a village called Tosh. I wire up a hidden camera and pose as an Australian tourist. I chat with fellow backpackers and soon one of them agrees to guide me to a village that supplies the best charas. Not a few posh restaurants or houses, but an entire village involved in the drug trade! Somewhere, up in the mountains.

We trek to our first destination, a remote village called Kutla, not far from Manikaran in the Parvati Valley. I am with an Israeli tourist who like many others is looking for quality charas. The police is rarely seen at Kutla, which makes it a favourite haunt for foreign drug tourists.

We soon make contact with Sheru, a local drug peddler, at a charas party. Sheru also arranges cheap labour for ‘rubbing’ charas leaves to get extract. We decided to tap Sheru for more critical information.

Mirza: So, there are no huge fields here?

Israeli: The fields are very far.

Sheru: Yeah, only mountain people go there

Mirza: Then how do they bring big quantities?

Israeli: Little, little (in small amounts).

The Village

Kutla looks like any other village. But inside, is a very different world. For those living in these unmapped villages, on the fringes of charas fields, rubbing charas is a way of life.

Sheru says foreign drug traffickers grow charas in Himachal. “Foreigners have fields up there. They have fields; they have tents, they have everything up there,” says Sheru.

Mirza: Really? But how can foreigners buy land up there? They cannot buy land.

Charas flowing freely in Himachal

Kullu Valley (Himachal Pradesh): Forest lands, which is known as wastelands, in Kullu Valley often used for Charas (Cannabis) cultivation. But on paper the land belongs to no one. So even the police find the fields, they don't have anyone to prosecute.

So who really grows Charas in Himachal’s Parvati Valley? According to intelligence report available with CNN-IBN’s Special Investigation Team, it's a foreign drug mafia, from Europe to Israel that now runs India's Charas trade by remote control.

Himachal Pradesh Narcotics Officer O P Sharma says, “Communication is so advanced, they are remote controlling it.”

They have taught the locals so their presence is not required on how to pack etc.

To find out how these deals are struck, CNN-IBN Special Investigation Team posed as foreign drug tourists and met one such local drug trafficker named Santosh.

Drug dealer Santosh: Tell her that she will not have any complaint about the maal (product).

Drug dealer Madan: You will not get any complaints about the maal.

The drug dealers showed the Charas samples to the Special Investigation Team and promised delivery anywhere in India or abroad.

Drug dealer Madan: Next time you want in Delhi, Goa or Mumbai, we will provide you there.

It was clear that local dealers had plenty of experience in striking deals.

Drug dealer Madan: Nobody will give you without advance here.

CNN-IBN SIT: I can show you the money if you want.

Drug dealer Sudesh: You want to pay some advance?

CNN-IBN SIT: I will pay the entire money after I see the entire stuff, that’s my only deal.

Finally, with the covert help of enforcement agencies, CNN-IBN Special Investigation Team showed the dealers Rs 18 lakh to strike a deal for 40 kilos of Charas.

Drug dealer Madan: Ok, we trust you and we will take the risk.

However, the drug dealers soon figured that they were dealing with journalists.

1 Comment:

  1. tanyaa said...
    Jammu and Kashmir is the sixth largest state in India including the area occupied by Pakistan and China. The crown of India lies in the extreme north of the country and is bounded on three sides by China, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Post a Comment


blogger templates | Make Money Online