A special Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) court has asked the question most media houses, politicians, and even civil society have been shying away from: Did Mundra Adani port gain any benefits?
The court asked and instructed the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to investigate the massive seizure of nearly 3,000 kilograms of heroin at a port in Mundra, in Gujarat’s Kutch district, where Adani is the “port operator”. According to news reports, the judge added that the heroin seizure has also raised “many issues” that should be investigated, such as, why the consignment was “registered and landed at Mundra Adani Port, Gujarat which is far from Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh”, that is surrounded by other ports like the Chennai port.
According to news reports, the special court has directed the DRI to investigate if the “Mundra Adani Port, its management and its authority has gained any benefits” from this “import of 2,990 kg of heroin, seized by the DRI on September 16”. The two containers that had landed at Mundra port from Afghanistan via Iran were in the name of Aashi Trading Company of Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, the Indian Express, reported from court orders passed on September 26 by Additional District Judge C M Pawar. The court was “hearing the remand application of one of the key accused, Rajkumar P, a Coimbatore resident and the key accused who used WhatsApp to broker the deal between the Indian company and a Iranian exporter,” reported IT. The court said, “… it is required to be investigated that what is the role of authority and officers of Mundra Adani Port while such consignment/container was sent/imported from foreign nation to India and landed at Mundra Adani Port and how management, authority and officer of Mundra Adani port was completely under dark and oblivious about the fact of import of such consignment at Mundra Adani Port wherein contraband heroin of approximately 2,990 kgs was found and whether Mundra Adani Port, its management and its authority has gained any benefits from import of such consignment of NDPS substances in India.”
According to the news report, the court has also asked the DRI to investigate “the modalities and the process for scanning and checking of such container and consignment at foreign nations and at Mundra port when said consignment/container was sent/imported from foreign nation to India and landed at Mundra Adani Port.”
On September 16, DRI Ahmedabad had seized heroin from two containers at Mundra Port that had been declared as “containing talc powder” or “semi-processed talc stones”. The containers were reportedly “imported by Aashi Trading Company, registered in Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada, from a firm called Hasan Husain Ltd” hence the query arose about why this port was chosen.
While the media coverage around this explosive story had remained ‘soft’ the Adani Group had issued a statement on September 21, and claimed that they were only “running the port” adding, “We sincerely hope that this statement will put to rest the motivated, malicious and false propaganda being run on social media against the Adani Group. APSEZ is a port operator providing services to shipping lines. We have no policing authority over the containers or the millions of tonnes of cargo that pass through the terminals in Mundra or any of our ports.”
According to the news report, the court also observed that “in the last two years, the sea at Gujarat, especially the sea area of Kachchh district, has become a hub for “importing/smuggling of contraband in huge quantities from foreign countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan” running into crores of rupees” and stressed that DRI also “probe into the management and officials of Mundra Adani Port, even if other agencies are investigating the case.”
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