Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, June 12
The Punjab Drugs Controller has banned two Amritsar-based firms from manufacturing and exporting Tramadol tablets after a consignment of 24 million tablets, meant for a Dubai firm, was found being diverted to Islamic State militants in Libya. The Tribune broke the story in November last year.
It has now been found that the consignment was repacked in Sri Lanka and the shipment diverted to Libya, according to Mohinderjit Singh, Additional Director, NCB.
Tramadol, an opioid tablet, is immensely popular with IS militants. An effective numbing medicine, they reportedly call it a ‘fighter drug’. Sources said the militants were funding terror activities through further sale of the drug. According to the Narcotics Control Bureau, the tablet, which was imported from India at a cost of Rs 3 each, was sold by the IS at Rs 200 or more to addicts in Libya and European countries.
The Italian police had in November last year intercepted a consignment at the port of Gioia Tauro. The Indian security agencies were informed that it originated from India. However, it was found packaged along with clothes and cosmetics meant to be shipped to Libya. Subsequent investigations led the authorities to the two companies in Amritsar.
State Drugs Controller Pardeep Kumar Mattu said the licences of Amritsar-based Ramsons Remedies (manufacturers) and Royal Enterprises had been cancelled. Though the documents of the firms were found in order, they had been penalised for their failure to ensure the consignment reached the intended destination, said Deputy Drugs Controller Gurbinder Singh, who investigated the case.
The banned firms had stoutly defended themselves in their replies to the Drugs Controller and the NCB, contending they could not be held responsible for any diversion or repackaging during transit.