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Phensedyl smuggling remains a challenge on the India-Bangladesh border

  • Published
    24th Feb, 2022

Despite the drop in the cattle smuggling and smuggling of other narcotics, Phensedyl, a codeine-based cough syrup remains a challenge for the border guarding forces along the India-Bangladesh border. 

  • In the first few weeks of the 2022, the South Bengal Frontier of the BSF had seized about 1,000 bottles of Phensedyl in the border areas.
  • In 2021, South Bengal Frontier seized about 1.64 lakh bottles of the cough syrup.
  • The seizure in 2020 was 2.99 lakh bottles and in 2019 it was 1.98 lakh bottles.

What is Phensedyl?

  • Phensedyl T Syrup is a combination medicine used in the treatment of dry cough.
  • It relieves allergy symptoms such as runny nose, stuffy nose, sneezing, watery eyes and congestion or stuffiness.

Yaba Tablets

  • Along with Phensedyl another narcotic that is smuggled in huge quantities along the international border is Yaba tablets.
  • According to investigative agencies, these tablets usually originate in Myanmar and come to India from Bangladesh.
  • Yaba is a mixture of methamphetamine and caffeine sold as cheap red or pink pills and works as stimulant to the central nervous system.
  • In 2021, the BSF south Bengal Frontier seized about 14,147 tablets when it was allegedly being smuggled into India. The seizure in 2019 by the same frontier was 53,763 Yaba tablets. 

How is Phensedyl smuggled into Bangladesh and why mainly into Bangladesh?

  • Phensedyl and other cough syrups are illegally brought into the State with forged documents and at times are hidden under other commodities like in trucks and buses.
  • Once inside, they find their way to Bangladesh, with which Tripura shares two thirds of its border. The drug is generally sent in its original packaging.
  • Since liquor is banned in Bangladesh, the drug became a popular alternative for alcohol.
  • Phensedyl used to contain codeine phosphate along with hydrochloride ephedrine and promethazine, a unique combination for addiction.
  • This is what made it a popular drug of abuse and unfortunately the trend still continues even after the chemical formulation was changed.

About Border Security Force (BSF)

  • The Border Security Force (BSF) was raised in the wake of the 1965 War on 1 December 1965 for ensuring the security of the borders of India and for matters connected therewith.
  • The BSF is India’s border guarding organization on its border with Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • It is one of the seven Central Armed Police Forces of the Union of India under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
    • Assam Rifles (AR)
    • Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)
    • Central Industrial Security Force (CISF)
    • Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)
    • National Security Guards (NSG)
    • Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB)
  • In 2021, the Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a notification to widen the jurisdiction of Border Security Force (BSF) for seizure, search and arrest up to 50kmfrom the international border in Assam, West Bengal and Punjab.

Powers exercised by BSF in its jurisdiction

  • Section 139 (BSF Act, 1968): It empowers the Center to notify from time to time the area and extent of operation of the Border Security Force. 
  • Under the BSF Act, Section 139 (ii) gives sweeping powers of arrest to BSF. 
  • It has powers of preventive arrest under Section 139 (1) & post offence arrest under Aection 139 (ii). 
  • No mention of consultation with local police. 

India-Bangladesh Border

  • Four northeastern states of Tripura (856 km), Meghalaya (443 km), Mizoram (318 km) and Assam (263 km) share an 1,880-km border with Bangladesh.
  • West Bengal in the east alone shares a 2216 border with Bangladesh.
  • Of the total 4096 km of the border that India shares with Bangladesh, 85 percent is fenced
  • The India-Bangladesh border is porous.
  • It runs through rivers, ponds, agricultural fields, villages and even houses where the entrance is in India and the backdoor in Bangladesh. It is perhaps the most complex land border anywhere in the world.
  • That is why for nearly three decades this long stretch of the border was the hub for illegal migration, human trafficking, smuggling of narcotics, guns and ammunition and essential supplies.
  • Smuggling is the main economic activity along the India-Bangladesh border.
  • The ease with which smugglers can bring in arms and ammunition and terror infiltrators to cross over into India is, perhaps, not adequately understood in the corridors of power in New Delhi.
  • On the Zero Line, right on the International Border, Bangladeshis and Indians live in close proximity; a situation that virtually makes the border and all security arrangements to make it inviolate absolutely meaningless.
  • This is easily exploited by terror infiltrators and anti-national operatives and insurgents based in Bangladesh.

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