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The "Maal" Economy of Mumbai

The Financial capital of India has seen a steep rise in drug usage and peddlers over a long period of time. With drug abuse related deaths on the rise, here’s a breakdown of how Mumbai’s drug industry works.

Representative Image of drugs (Source: Getty Images)

A young college student leaves home with the excuse to grab a bite from the local eatery. He walks to the closest available seller, makes the transaction just like any other and is home in no time; except, he didn’t eat anything. His pocket shows a slight bulge, stark enough to tell that he’s carrying something but non-descript enough for his family not to notice. He walks home, continues his day just as usual with no one the wiser that he had just bought drugs from a peddler. When a drug deal becomes as easy as grabbing a bite, reflecting on the cause of the problem becomes of top priority.

Mumbai, being a financial centre has become home to a happening nightlife scene with bars and clubs constantly pushing to stay open as late as possible. But people seem to have blurred the lines between partying and consuming drugs, making substance abuse a common occurrence. While it becomes easier by the day for young people to buy drugs, the anti-narcotics agencies seem unable to scrutinize the large supply of substances to the city. Numbers of local drug peddlers have increased manifold making access to the substance very easy. The drug isn’t simply limited to the streets but is allegedly in high demand by film stars and celebrities as well.

According to the Anti-Narcotics Bureau, Mumbai’s drug business has 2 big names; Chinku Pathan, who caters to the South Mumbai area and Imma who supplies to areas like Bandra and Juhu. Marine Drive has become one of the open markets for dealers. ‘Maal’, ‘stuff’, ‘one puff’, ‘AK47’, ‘baby’, ‘hit’ and ‘paper’ have become common street pseudonyms for drugs such as MDMA, LSD, cocaine and marijuana. A peddler in the ‘Filmcity’ area around Juhu and Bandra revealed that he supplies drugs to many celebrities. He said that he never deals directly with them but communicates and delivers to their staff. Such orders are usually large as compared to smaller quantities bought by individuals. Payments are always made in cash as they cannot be traced back to the source.

A source in the Anti-Narcotics Cell currently investigating the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput informed Zee News in an interview that a person named Meeraj runs a drug business in the Filmcity area. He also said,

Imma, along with another supplier, is currently under the lens of the agencies and has been supplying cocaine and other stuff to many Bollywood celebrities.”

Speaking about the route of entry of these drugs into Mumbai, the source said that the drugs arrived in Mumbai via roadways from Gujarat and Punjab. Direct foreign supply in non-descript packages isn’t an uncommon occurrence either. Once within the city, the drugs are divided among smaller peddlers for retail sale.

It is said that prevention is the best cure. The same doesn’t seem to be the case with Mumbai’s Anti-Narcotics Bureau who have become more active only after the death of a celebrity. Add to this the open availability of substances across the city and it begs the question; If a child can find the dealer, why can’t the narcs? In such a situation, one cannot rule out the possibility of a nexus between Mumbai's law enforcement and the drug Mafia. In-depth investigation into the drug problem is the call of the hour failing which, Mumbai may become a second Punjab.

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