ibnlive » India

Mar 06, 2007 at 09:23pm IST

Pune rave: Drug bust or cops' PR drama?

Two days after nearly 280 youngsters – mostly students and BPO executives – were hauled up from a rave party in Pune, police are investigating the possible involvement of international drug peddling mafia.

Cross-examination of the detainees has also revealed that the party invitations were extended through popular social networking sites like Orkut.com and isratrance.com among others.

In fact, Isratrance.com’s feedback pages served as a sort of timeline to the chain of events that ultimately led to the police bust.

The developments have led many to believe that Pune – once known as a quaint pensioner’s paradise - is becoming an active drug hub.

However, another side of story is also fast gaining ground.

Many – including the parents of some of the arrested youths – contend that police raided the party and arrested the youngsters only for “policing glory”.

In CNN-IBN show Face the Nation, this was one of the issues discussed by a panel comprising Superintendent of Police of Pune (Rural) Vishwas Nangre-Patil and adman and Managing Partner of Counselage, Suhel Seth.

Denying the allegation that the raids were conducted for earning accolades, Patil said that the raid party was just doing its duty.

“The rave party was at a remote place and the team took more than three hours to locate the place despite having correct information. The police team caught 280 youths red-handed and charged them under Section 27, for only consumption. But seven main accused, the drug peddlers were charged under Section 20B, 25, 26, 27 and 29 and stringent punishment has been prescribed. So, the police were very selective and didn’t ask for police custody for 180 youngsters and asked for the custody of only drug peddlers, who were involved in the trade, sale, distribution and possession,” said Patil.

Police also conducted medical tests on those arrested, Patil clarified.

But if the acts were illegal, why didn't the police book them under Section 20 of NDPS?

Patil said that though the police couldn’t find any drugs from their possession, the procedure is yet to be completed.

“Only after medical report, it may be determined if all of the 280 youngsters are guilty or not,” said Patil.

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What about fears that police action will perhaps jeopardise lives of many "innocent" youngsters?

Patil remained steadfast on his stand and said, “We have taken all legal actions. We have done our job.”

However, adman Seth was not to be convinced and alleged the police act was a silly "glory-grabbing" act.

“It’s a bit silly, because we are not hitting the root of the problem. And root of the problem is that drugs are freely available in the country and people both pushing and using drugs are free to get away,” said Seth.

While Patil was of the opinion that Indian youngsters do not take drugs socially, Seth said it was the police attitude that was a matter of concern.

“It is a matter of worry that police believe no one uses drug in this country and this is why the law is non-enforceable as well,” he said.

However, Seth denied that the “illegal act” should be made legal simply because many people are doing it.

“On the contrary, I have always been an advocate of deterring and determined punishment,” he said.

He blamed the Indian legal system and the loopholes within and said the drug users and abusers in India get away because the legal system is porous and because they are wealthy and have access.

However, Patil vociferously denied the police were hypocritical in charging a soft target and not taking on hard core criminals.

“Youngsters are charged for using drugs and if medical reports prove that, they will be chargesheeted, otherwise they will be discharged,” he said.

On the action taken by Patil, Seth said, “I respect his intentions, but I certainly doubt his courage. It’s very easy to say that they all been booked. If one of then had been a politician’s son, you watch how the story would have turned. And we have seen turns and twists in this country, the guys who are rich, always get away.”

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