Drugs probe in Karnataka sparks BJP-Congress verbal spat

Home Minister said he will take up the drugs issue in the next assembly session and enact strict laws

Central Crime Branch, CCB, drugs
Central Crime Branch, Bengaluru | File Photo

The Central Crime Branch (CCB) investigation into the drugs peddling and substance abuse case in Karnataka that has got film personalities behind the bars, has now become a major platform for a verbal spat between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress.

Kannada film actor Ragini Dwivedi, one of the movie personalities arrested in the case, was remanded to 14 more days in jail by a local court on Monday (September 14). Dwivedi was arrested by the CCB on September 4.

The police, who intensified crackdown on narcotic substances over the past week, now plan to rope in intelligence and strengthen CCB to better implement the state’s anti-drug efforts.

Meanwhile, even as Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai indicated that the government will make concentrated effort to get the state rid of the drug menace, the alleged involvement of different political parties led to a war of words between the BJP and the Congress.

On September 11, the police had seized 1,300 kgs marijuana in Kalaburagi and one of the main accused, Chadrakant Chavan, was identified as a BJP worker. His photo from the BJP’s campaign last election went viral and the local BJYM leader admitted Chavan had worked at the booth level.

Soon after, the ruling BJP was put on a defensive and Congress members attacked the saffron party for letting loose on the drug mafia.

Related news: Karnataka drug menace: Cops crackdown on tier II, III cities 

Congress leader and Chittapur MLA Priyank Kharge, in whose district the stock pile was seized, alleged the local police with political blessing were involved. He even asked the government’s action since it came to power.

On Twitter, Kharge said that the BJP is in power and it has all the resources at its disposal to find out how gambling dens cropped up in Kalaburagi, and who gave permissions for such recreational clubs. “Under whose political protection are these peddlers growing?” he asked.

Siddaramaiah, the Leader of Opposition in the assembly, sought merciless action against those involved in drug peddling and substance abuse, and called for an “impartial” investigation without any political motive.

“Drugs are a menace to the entire society; this has been around for several years now and it has to be stopped,” said the former chief minister. “Strict action should be taken against anybody (belonging to any field or political party, powerful or famous) involved in drug peddling,” he said.

However, with Congress MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan’s name being dragged into the drug scandal, he warned the government not to target a particular community or blame a political leader without enough proof.

Related news: Actor Ragini Dwivedi diluted urine sample during dope test: Crime branch

Meanwhile, after CCB officers raided Congress leader Girish Gadigeppa’s house in Hubballi on September 13, BJP counter-attacked the Congress. The raid was based on digital evidence (photo from a trip to Goa) retrieved from Ms. Dwivedi’s phone.

Since the drugs scandal came to light, police and the home ministry, which indicated the involvement of high profile people in the case, are looking for political connections to score brownie points.

Besides marijuana, synthetic drugs such as LSD, heroin and cocaine have also been seized across the state. The home minister said he would take it up in the upcoming assembly session and enact strict laws to control the drug menace.

Related news: Maharashtra govt orders probe against Kangana over ‘drug link’

The government will take certain key decisions — including drafting fresh rules for the implementation of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, a central act and strengthening of investigating agencies (CCB) involved in the fight.

Meanwhile, former chief minister and JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy urged the state government to close down all the dance bars in Bengaluru, alleging that they were turning out to be dens of drug supply.

Speaking to reporters in Shivamogga, Kumaraswamy said, “The ruling government is not dependent on anybody’s mercy. So the Chief Minister (BS Yediyurappa) should take this bold step and ban the dance bars.”

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