Sunday, September 15, 2019

Posted at: Aug 23, 2019, 7:05 AM; last updated: Aug 23, 2019, 7:05 AM (IST)ATTARI HAUL

Exclusion to hamper probe: Customs Dept

Hands over investigation papers to NIA
Exclusion to hamper probe: Customs Dept
The heroin seized from a rock salt consignment imported from Pakistan at Attari ICP on June 29. File photo

GS Paul
Tribune News Service
Amritsar, August 22

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) today took into possession all documents, records, statements of the accused pertaining to the seizure of 532 kg heroin from Attari ICP from the Customs Department. The latter is also in the process of handing over the narcotics to the NIA.

Ironically, the Customs Department, which has made such a huge recovery and had completed at least 80 per cent of the investigation, would now be out of the picture.

It has been learnt that the department had contested the transfer of original case record, seized contraband and other exhibits to the NIA, saying it could hamper further proceedings in the case, but in vain.

A senior officer said the developments might create “benefit of doubt”, which could save the real culprits. “The Customs is now out of the investigation proceedings, which is not a good sign. We will still contest it in the court and seek our involvement,” he said.

Since the Amritsar importer and key accused Gurpinder Singh, who had ordered the consignment from which the heroin was recovered, has died in jail, it would be a cumbersome exercise for the NIA to establish and authenticate proofs to reach the accused.

“The Customs officers had recorded the statements of Gurpinder following which his Handwara-based aide Tariq Ahmed Lone and others were nabbed. Now when Gurpinder is no more, it would be a huge task for the NIA to substantiate the evidences,” the official said.

He viewed that at least the presence and declarations of Customs officers who recorded the statements would hold validation in the court, but now they could no more be involved and it would weaken the case.

Meanwhile the mastermind, Ranjit Rana alias Cheeta and his family members are yet to be arrested. The Customs had sealed the “benami” properties owned by him and arrested those who facilitated it.


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