Despite the drop in cattle smuggling and other narcotics, Phensedyl, a codeine-based cough syrup, remains a challenge for the border guarding forces along the India-Bangladesh border. On February 14, personnel of the Border Security Force (BSF) arrested two youths for allegedly smuggling near Hakimpur border outpost in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district.
A communication shared by the BSF said two local youths — Mostakin Sheikh (19) and Shaheen Sardar (21) — were allegedly involved in smuggling of the narcotic over the past few days. They were to get ₹500 for transporting 60 bottles of Phensedyl which was recovered from their possession.
Deputy Inspector General and spokesperson of South Bengal Frontier of the BSF S.S. Guleria said these arrests are a result of the BSF developing a network of ascertaining information on smuggling. Attempts are being made so that nothing can remain hidden from the eyes of the troops, he added.
In the first few weeks of the 2022, the South Bengal Frontier of the BSF had seized 1,000 bottles of Phensedyl in the border areas. In 2021, it seized about 1.64 lakh bottles of Phensedyl. The seizure of Phensedyl in the year 2020 was 2.99 lakh bottles and in 2019 was 1.98 lakh bottles.
Senior BSF officers said it was the difficult to contain the smuggling because Phensedyl is smuggled in low quantities from India to Bangladesh. “In the past few years, we have stopped factories manufacturing Phensedyl. Sometimes farmers smuggle it, at other times people throw it over the fence on the other side of the border,” a senior officer said.
A bottle of Phensedyl costs about ₹200 in India and the moment it crosses the border, the price goes up to thousands. BSF officers explained that in Bangladesh, with a majority Muslim population, the religious faith prohibits consumption of liquor. In this scenario, cough syrups with codeine phosphate are an easy way for people to get high.
During the talks between the border guarding forces of both the countries, the officers of the Border Guards Bangladesh have expressed concern over smuggling of Phensedyl. Not only the BSF, but other investigative agencies also keep a track on its smuggling. On February 3, the Kolkata Customs in an operation with the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence seized 10,000 bottles of Phensedyl headed towards Bangladesh through Bongaon in North 24 Parganas.
Along with Phensedyl, another narcotic that is smuggled in huge quantities is Yaba tablets. According to investigative agencies, these tablets usually originate in Myanmar and come to India from Bangladesh. Yaba is a mixture of methamphetamine and caffeine, sold as cheap red or pink pills, and works as stimulant to the central nervous system. In 2021, the BSF South Bengal Frontier seized about 14,147 tablets when it was allegedly being smuggled into India. The seizure in 2019 by the same frontier was 53,763 Yaba tablets.