NAGPUR, Dec 12: Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday expressed concern over the alarming rise in drug-related activities on Instagram, saying the popular social media platform has transformed into a marketplace for the illicit substances.
Drugs were also being sold through the dark net (an encrypted part of the Internet that is not accessible through search engines), Fadnavis, who also holds the home portfolio, said in the state legislative council here during the ongoing winter session.
“Instagram has emerged as the drug marketplace where orders are being placed, payments are made through GPay and UPI and deliveries are being done,” he said.
Decisive measures are being taken in this connection, Fadnavis said while responding to questions from legislators Mahadev Jankar, Sachin Ahir, Anil Parab and others.
He also said courier companies have been appealed to scrutinise parcels, and surprise checks equipped with modern technology were being conducted at courier offices to curb the drug trade.
Ahir raised the issue of a case pertaining to drug racketeer Lalit Patil and removal of Sanjiv Thakur from the post of dean of Pune-based Sassoon Hospital.
Fadnavis assured that proper action would be taken following a thorough inquiry.
Patil emerged as the kingpin of a drug racket that was recently busted by the Sakinaka police in Mumbai in a two-month-long operation, which included the seizure of mephedrone worth about Rs 300 crore and a raid at a drug manufacturing unit in Nashik.
The case took a new turn after Patil, who was in Pune’s Yerawada prison over his role in another drug case but was admitted to government-run Sassoon Hospital in that city, escaped on October 2 while being taken for X-ray imaging. He was arrested in Karnataka two weeks later.
Fadnavis also said the government has initiated action against 172 Nigerians involved in drug-related offenses. A detention centre has been established for Nigerian nationals engaged in such offences, he said.
The deputy CM further said 2,369 suspicious ‘paan’ shops located in the vicinity of schools and colleges in Mumbai have been removed.
The government has also seized 38,000 e-cigarettes and crackdown on hookah parlours is underway, he said.
Leader of opposition in the council Ambadas Danve of the Shiv Sena (UBT) raised the issue of illegal drug units operating in industries and factories which were shut.
Fadnavis acknowledged Danve’s information and said such closed industries were under a thorough scrutiny.
Manufacturing of MD drug involves the use of various chemicals, the deputy CM added.
His statements came in the backdrop of seizure of mephedrone worth Rs 325 crore in adjoining
Raigad district in the past four days, a police official said on Monday.
Following the seizure of mephedrone worth Rs 107.3 crore on Friday (December 8), follow up action led to confiscation of another 174.5 kilograms of the synthetic stimulant drug worth Rs 218 crore, the official said.
Friday’s raid was held in a factory in Khopoli’s Dheku village, leading to the arrest of three persons.
Replying to a query from Danve, the home minister said in the lower house on Tuesday that drug kingpin Patil had spent seven months in the hospital after being arrested.
“From 2020 onwards, whenever he was arrested, he was admitted to the hospital. Looking at his list of health issues, one might assume he couldn’t even walk. Nevertheless, he escaped from the hospital,” Fadnavis said.
He assured strict action against Thakur, the ousted dean of the Sassoon Hospital from where Patil had escaped. (PTI)