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Drug & Human Trafficking :Challenge to India’s Security

Drug & Human Trafficking :Challenge to India’s Security

  • For the last three decades India has become a transit hub as well as a destination for heroin and hashish produced in the ‘Golden Triangle’ and the ‘Golden Crescent’.
  • In addition, various psychotropic and pharmaceutical preparations and precursor chemicals produced domestically as well as in various parts of the world are also trafficked through Indian territory. The two-way illegal flow of these drugs and chemicals not only violates India’s borders, but also poses a significant threat to national security.
  • The nexus between drug traffickers, organised criminal networks and terrorists has created a force powerful enough to cause instability in the country. Money generated through drug trade has been used to fund various insurgent and terrorist movements.
  • For instance, it has been estimated that money generated from the illegal sale of narcotics accounted for 15 per cent of the finances of militant groups in Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly Northeast insurgent groups like the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) are known to channelize drugs into India to finance their operations.

India – Pakistan Border

  • The proximity of the India-Pakistan border to the ‘Golden Crescent’, the largest producer of opium and cannabis in the world, has made it vulnerable to the trafficking of heroin and hashish. Other factors also contributed towards the increased inflow of heroin through the borders.
  • Porous borders, disturbance in the areas, proximity to traditional routes, closing of traditional Balkan route via Iran during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), Outbreak of the Sikh militancy in the mid-1980s and the Kashmir militancy in the late 1980s, support from Pakistan etc are the major reasons behind drug trafficking across the border areas.

India-Nepal Border and India-Bhutan border

  • Hashish and marijuana/ganja are the two cannabis derivatives that have been traditionally trafficked from Nepal into India. Lately, a growing demand for Nepalese and Bhutanese cannabis in India and a corresponding demand for codeine based pharmaceutical preparations as well as low-grade heroin in Nepal and Bhutan have resulted in two way smuggling of narcotics and drugs through the India-Nepal and India-Bhutan borders.                          Drug & Human Trafficking :Challenge to India’s Security
  • Well developed road networks as well as open and poorly guarded borders have facilitated large scale trafficking of drugs through these borders.

The India-Myanmar Border

  • Proximity of the India-Myanmar border to the ‘Golden Triangle’, growing demand for drugs among the local population in the North eastern states, political instability and insecurity brought about by numerous insurgencies in the region as well as a porous and poorly guarded border provided a proliferating environment for traffickers to smuggle heroin and psychotropic substances into the country through the India-Myanmar border.
  • Existence of strong transborder ethnic linkages, criminal networks, and inauguration of formal trade through Moreh in 1994 have further facilitated the unhindered and, therefore, increased illegal flow of drugs to the Northeast.

India-Bangladesh Border

  • The India-Bangladesh border has been susceptible to smuggling of various kinds of drugs ranging from heroin, marijuana/ganja, hashish, brown sugar, cough syrups, etc.
  • High demand for codeine based cough syrups in Bangladesh, a highly porous border, dense settlement along the border, and strong trans-border ethnic ties contribute towards drug trafficking along the India-Bangladesh border.
  • A well developed railroad and river network, large volume of both formal and informal trade, and existence of criminal networks are other enabling factors for trafficking drugs along the India-Bangladesh border.                                  Drug & Human Trafficking :Challenge to India’s Security


  • Both the east and west coasts of India have been major staging points for the smuggling of drugs. In the mid-1990s, the Tamil Nadu-Sri Lanka sector emerged as an important exit route for heroin smuggled in from Afghanistan and Pakistan.                              Drug & Human Trafficking :Challenge to India’s Security
  • Tuticorin and Kochi have emerged as top drug trafficking centres in the country, others being Mumbai, Varanasi and Tirupur. Drugs are smuggled out from the shores using small fishing boats. They are then transferred to small islands dotting the south Indian coast, from where they are shipped to Sri Lanka and Maldives.


  • Major as well as secondary airports in the country are used by the traffickers to smuggle various drugs through personal carriers, postal services, etc.
  • While Delhi and Mumbai remain the most important airports from where maximum quantities of drugs are seized every year, other airports such as Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Amritsar and Trivandrum have also emerged as important conduits, a fact corroborated by major drug seizures in these places.
  • The most important air routes for the smuggling of heroin to the international market is the New Delhi-Lagos-Addis Ababa and the Mumbai-Lagos-Addis Ababa air links, which are exploited by Nigerian and other African drug cartels for smuggling heroin out of India and cocaine into India.
  • Along with above mentioned challenges to internal security, the alleged involvement of International NGOs through their funding to domestic NGOs in mobilizing local people against developmental projects, as seen in ongoing agitation against Kudankulam Nuclear power plant, also threatens the Internal peace and security in India.
  • Therefore in this globalizing era, India being the biggest democracy in the world, faces major challenges to internal security through the external state and Non- state actors.


Internal security

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