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Himanshu Khulbe asked: Why India has become a major conduit for human and drug trafficking in South Asia?

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  • Pushpita Das replies: A combination of factors have made India a major conduit for human and drug trafficking in South Asia. As far as drug trafficking is concerned, being proximate to the ‘Golden Crescent’ (Afghanistan-Pakistan-Iran) and ‘Golden Triangle’ (Myanmar-Thailand-Laos) has made India vulnerable to the trafficking of narcotics and drugs such as heroin, hashish, including synthetic drugs produced in these areas. Heroin was first trafficked into India in the mid-seventies from the Golden Triangle. However, the quantity trafficked from the Golden Triangle has always been very small. The Golden Crescent, on the other hand, has remained the primary source of trafficked heroin in the country since the early eighties. Secondly, closing of the traditional Balkan route via Iran during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) had led to the rerouting of drugs through India. While end of the war and reopening of Balkan route in the late eighties resulted in a dip in heroin trafficking in the country, but the trend was not to last too long. After a gap of almost two decades, it again picked up in 2012 because of conflicts in Iraq and Syria, tightening of border controls in Central Asian countries, increased production of opium in Afghanistan, greater domestic demand in India, and connivance of state government officials and border guarding forces, especially in the Punjab sector. The third factor is the pre-existing network of bullion smugglers along the border regions and the involvement of criminal networks in drug smuggling who work in conjunction with the Nigerian, Afghan and the Kenyan syndicates. Last but not least, existence of traditional smuggling routes, porous borders, well developed transportation networks and lax vigilance have all contributed in facilitating the trafficking of narcotics in and out of India.

    In the recent decades, trafficking of women and human smuggling in general have also become quite rampant across the India–Bangladesh and India-Nepal borders. A number of factors contribute to human trafficking through India. Firstly, India is proximate to two of the poorest countries in South Asia, Nepal and Bangladesh, which are also the biggest source of people being trafficked in the region. Poverty and hunger often forces either the parents to sell the girls to traffickers or the girls themselves leave home in search of a better future in India and fall prey to traffickers. Secondly, India has an open border with Nepal and a porous border with Bangladesh, which facilitates relative easy movement of people from these countries into India. Thirdly, people desperate to find better sources of livelihood have started relying on the services of smugglers. Mafias involved in human smuggling and trafficking have proliferated and entrenched themselves along the border areas. Corrupt government personnel and political patrons are often hand in glove with them, thereby further abetting human smuggling and trafficking in the region.

    Posted on December 24, 2018.

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