Mundra Port drug haul case: NIA conducts searches in Delhi

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday conducted searches at a godown in the national capital in connection with the Mundra Port drug haul case and claimed to have recovered “white powder material”.

“Search was conducted at Nebsarai in Delhi in connection with the seizure of narcotics substance imported in the guise of semi processed talc stones by M/s Aashi Trading company. During the search conducted today white powder material, suspected to be talc mixed with narcotics, has been seized with the help of FSL (forensic science laboratory),” the agency said in a statement.

This is the third search in the case. The agency had on October 12 conducted searches at multiple locations in New Delhi in connection with the case.

It had then searched premises residential premises and godowns at Lajpat Nagar, Alipur, Khera Kalan in Delhi and Noida in Uttar Pradesh.

Besides sections of the IPC and Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, the NIA has also invoked Section 17 (punishment for raising funds for terrorist act) and Section 18 (punishment for conspiracy to commit terror acts) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

On October 9, the NIA had conducted searches across the country.

The case is related to the seizure of 2,988.21 kg of heroin at Gujarat’s Mundra port by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) last month. The heroin was found in two containers, which were declared as containing “semi-processed talc stones”, that landed at Mundra Port from Afghanistan via Iran’s Bandar Abbas Port, in the name of Aashi Trading Company of Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.

The case was transferred to NIA on October 6. The NIA said it had registered a case in the matter following an order from the Ministry of Home Affairs. The NIA FIR has named Machavaram Sudhakaran, Durga P V Govindaraju and Rajkumar P as accused among others. “Pursuant to registration of the case, requisite actions as per law for expeditious investigation of case have been initiated,” the NIA said.

Sudhakaran and Govindaraju, a Chennai-based couple, own the company which was shipping the contraband. Govindaraju is the proprietor of the firm M/s Aashi Trading Company, registered in Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada, that was importing the talc from a firm called M/s Hasan Husain Ltd. Rajkumar, from Coimbatore, worked in Iran and was allegedly “coordinating with foreign suppliers”.

Till date, nine people have been arrested in the case, including four Afghans and an Uzbek national, according to a release issued by the Press Information Bureau (PIB). All the arrests have been made by the DRI. The Narcotics Control Bureau and the Enforcement Directorate are also probing the case.

Last month, a special court for NDPS in Gujarat directed the DRI to investigate if the “Mundra Adani Port, its management and its authority gained any benefits” from the import of the consignment.

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