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Harsh Pathak asked: India is trapped between Golden Crescent and Golden Triangle. What are its implications on India’s internal security and what is the way forward?

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  • Pushpita Das replies: The location of India between Golden Triangle and Gold Crescent not only results in the trafficking of drugs and narcotics produced in these regions into India but also in a reverse flow of precursor chemicals from India.

    This two-way illegal movement of narcotics and drugs pose a significant threat to national security. For one, the breach of the international borders of the country by drug traffickers implies that the same routes could be used for smuggling in weapons as well as terrorists into the country. Investigations into the Pathankot attack that took place on December 31, 2015 hinted that the terrorists entered India from Pakistan through the routes tried and tested by drug traffickers.

    The nexus between drug traffickers, criminal networks and terrorists is another potent threat. The exploitation of the trafficking routes by terrorists with the help of well-entrenched criminal networks to infiltrate with arms and explosives adds a critical dimension to the security of the borders. Further, the money generated by the illegal sale of narcotics and drugs is used for financing terrorist activities. In the Northeast, while the smaller insurgent groups are directly involved in drug trafficking to generate quick funds, the bigger insurgent groups collect protection money from the drug peddlers in lieu of safe passage of drug consignments through their territory.

    Last but not least, the large-scale availability of narcotics and drugs encourages both demand and consumption among the domestic population, leading to dysfunctional behaviour and creating law and order problem in society. It also causes a huge economic drain to the country through the loss of production as well as the diversion of resources towards the rehabilitation of drug addicts. Drug trafficking also has a direct bearing on the political process as drug cartels subvert, penetrate and further corrupt the state institutions to sustain their illegal drug trade.

    India has adopted a comprehensive approach of reducing supply as well as demand for narcotics and drugs. The approach comprises of four elements: a) enacting legislation such as the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS); b) ensuring the physical security of the borders and coasts by strengthening patrolling and surveillance; c) eliciting cooperation from neighbouring countries by entering into bilateral and multilateral agreements on the prevention of illicit trafficking of drugs and chemicals; and, d) co-operating with voluntary organisations engaged in de-addiction and rehabilitation of drug addicts in an endeavour to prevent abuse of narcotics and synthetic drugs.

    Editor’s Note: Please also refer to the expert’s earlier reply to a related query and MP-IDSA Occasional Paper “Drug Trafficking in India: A Case for Border Security”.

    Posted on June 15, 2021

    Views expressed are of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Manohar Parrikar IDSA or the Government of India.