Pune: Two days after nearly 280 youngsters were arrested in a pre-dawn raid on a rave party in Pune on Sunday, police are investigating the possible involvement of international drug peddling mafia.
They were all taken into custody, and are awaiting bail. 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.
At the Pune bust, police detained two alleged drug peddlers, and claim to have seized drugs were worth Rs 3 crore. They also say that the party was organised by suspected international drug peddlers and that drugs and money flow openly at such events.
So for Pune, which for long has been known as a safe city and a pensioners' paradise, this incident comes as a rude shock and is an indication of how intensely the drug net has captured the youth of the city.
The question that was discussed on CNN-IBN’s show India 360 was - Should rave parties be policed?
On the panel of experts to try and understand whether the leisure industry as a whole needs intelligent policing were - Kiran Bedi, DG, Department of Police Research and Development, former Miss India, Amrita Thappar and Fashion Designer, Prasad Bidappa.
There have been numerous occasions when we have spoken of intelligent policing of leisure industry.
But when asked whether Sunday’s incident in Pune was one of intelligent policing or was it moral policing, Kiran Bedi was quick to answer.
“I think this is the first time we have seen perfect effective policing and we need to applaud this effort of Superintendent Vishwas Patil,” she said, adding that the party wasn’t leisure but it was “abuse of time through abuse of drugs”.
The police arrested 280 young people against whom they didn’t have proof whether they were possessors or users of drugs or not.
“Most of the youth were very well connected and I am happy the officer had the courage to take them on without getting overawed by them. I talked to Mr Patil and he told me he and his team danced with them for 15 minutes and it was so smoky and intoxicating that beyond 15 minutes, they would not have been effective enough so they had to get into the act. It is an excellent way of sending a message to the youth, which wants to pick it up,” Bedi said.
WHAT THE POLICE SEIZED
|100 gm of hashish|
|2.5 kg of ganja|
|Seven bottles of phenyl phenhydrochloride eye drops|
|1,500 "California drops"|
|Liquor and beer|
But aren’t the children at a party a soft target for the police? Why should they not go for the suppliers of the drugs?
“They were not soft targets. But they were abusers. Police have also got drug peddlers. Mr Patil asked for police custody not of the youngsters but only those who the police thought were peddling, marketing and promoting drugs. He also pointed out that some of the youth were regular abusers,” Bedi clarified.
But what does it feel to be a resident of Pune, usually regarded as a safe and a quiet town, to be emerging as a changed city because of a sub culture of money and drugs?
Ponds Femina Miss India Universe 2005, Amrita Thappar who hails from Pune said, “Pune has changed from a quaint little city to a cosmopolitan town and it is a youth centric city. But one off incident cannot pull the city down because it could have happened anywhere. But the fact that it happened in Pune is a shame in itself. The fingers should be pointed to those who supplied the drugs and who promote it.”
So does that mean that the children have been unfairly targeted?
“Not everybody. It’s hand-in-glove as well. But all the children are not to be blamed. This should be part of education in school,” Amrita said.
A relative of one of the children said – “My cousin is just 20 years old. He went to the party, but was only drinking beer. The police should be able to distinguish between those who took drugs and those who did not.”
And the point is that it cannot be a crime to attend a party.
“They have not been arrested for attending a party but for consuming drugs. The consumptions of these drugs is also an offence under the NDPS Act. That’s why the police officers have sent the children for a medical test. The urine and blood samples will tell who had what and only those who had the psychotropic chemical contents will be prosecuted,” said Bedi.
She added that it’s perfectly okay to catch the consumers because they lead to the supply.
PUNISHMENT FOR POSESSION OF DRUGS
|Under two gms: Six months jail plus Rs 10,000 fine|
|Two gms to 250 gms: Six months to 10 years jail|
|250 gms: 10 to 20 years jail|
“There is a demand and supply. These people become suppliers only by creating demands and as long there is demand, there is supply. It’s a Catch 22 situation,” Bedi said.
Are BPOs transforming cities like Pune and Bangalore?
Meanwhile, police say that of the 271 students arrested in the Pune rave party, many are from Bangalore. And this isn’t the first time that drug-users from Bangalore have been arrested.
The reports of drug peddlers in Bangalore are growing. Police had arrested two persons in June last year on charges of drug peddling and seized 25 kg of ganja that can cost upto a lakh rupees in the market.
But is the war of the police on drugs going to be won by cracking down on young peoples parties. Surely the police needs a strategy to find the suppliers, chains, dealers to find people on the streets and not just aim for the young.
“I think it is a great opportunity because in one shot they got the peddlers and the abusers. It is an example of good and preventive policing because even though some may face prosecution, there a positive message for the larger youth. We must practise zero tolerance to things, which are illegal. You also get to know a peddler through a consumer and that’s how good policing works,” said Bedi.
The Pune police also claim that almost 60 per cent of the arrested youths were IT professionals or call centre employees. This clearly points to a growing trance syndrome among some of the young IT professionals.
“That is just generalising. It’s not these people at all but the hip and young who have a lot of money to burn. I think the police did the right thing in sending out a message that you cannot just have parties and do drugs and use them as an excuse. But they were wrong in targeting the young people so arbitrarily. All over the world there are tests to figure out if people are coherent. You can’t take 271 people and slap them in jail and have a police record against them for the rest of their lives,” said Prasad Bidappa.
In 2005, Prasad Bidappa was actually at the receiving end of some police action on drug related charges. He was arrested for marijuana possession at the Dubai airport. Indian actor Vijay Raaz was also held the same year at Abu Dhabi airport on drug charges but was later let off.
When asked if he felt the police was ham-handed towards him, Bidappa said, “Yes I think so. Not in Dubai but surely in India the treatment was rough. It’s all fine now. But when it happens, it’s very scary.”
He added that India should not be made into a police state where having a party becomes a crime. Police should instead crackdown on the criminals.
But what kind of examples is he setting for young when he himself was caught with drugs?
“I don’t want to get into the case. It was an accident. Something that happened quite harmlessly in the end. And it really has no relevance to what we are talking about. What I’m saying is that if the police is trying to crackdown, then they should do it from the beginning of the supply chain. You know they are much big forces at play over here. You are right to crackdown on a rave party, but you are also wrong to crackdown on soft targets,” he said.
Who should police rave parties?
While police are investigating the possible involvement of international drug peddling mafia, 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”.
When Kiran Bedi was asked who should police rave parties, she said, “The police has to do its job and in this case the police has done an excellent job. They have set an example of how good jobs can be done and has sent a message that not only selling drugs is an abuse, but it has reminded the youth that consumption also is an offence. The law must be learnt to be respected both by the parents and the youth.”
But Bidappa chose to disagree with Bedi.
“There has to be policing on higher levels if we really want to make India drug-free. It shouldn’t be available so easily. By clamping down on a rave, do they think these people are going to stop taking drugs? They will probably go somewhere else. And if you want to make it drug free, find the drug lords and stop its import into India,” he said.
Amrita added, “This problem should be nipped in the bud. The children should be kept a vigil on and they should be educated in schools and colleges about the repercussions of drugs.”
WHAT IS A RAVE?
|It is an all-night dance event where electronic dance music and rave music is played. It makes for a rare audio-visual experience.|
|TThe availability of drugs, particularly ecstasy at modern free parties, has caused them to be the target of criticism from law enforcement officials and parents' groups.|
|Mainstream raves began in the late 1980s as a product of, reaction to, and rebellion against trends in popular music, nightclub culture, and commercial radio.|
|Ravers say taking drugs makes them lose all restraint and enjoy the atmosphere. And laser and light shows and steady trance music create a 'synesthesia'.|
|For the Pune rave party, Police claim they have evidence that drug parties like this particular one are organised using social networking sites like Orkut and isratrance.com.|
|At the Pune bust, police detained two alleged drug peddlers, and claim to have seized drugs were worth Rs 3 crore.|