A crime branch raid to curb drug peddling in the Wadibunder area turned grievous for the police team when after arresting two Nigerian nationals, another 20 escaped, injuring eight officials in the melee. The operation involved around 80 policemen from various crime branch units who had come together after receiving various reports of increased instances of foreigners peddling drugs in the area stretching from P D’Mello road to Byculla. “We had received reports that the foreign nationals roam around the area in big groups making it difficult for small police teams to nab them. Hence, we decided to form a number of teams of at least four to five officers in each and take them by surprise,” said a senior crime branch officer.
While the police team had the element of surprise, the drug peddlers had the advantage of knowing the area very well. “We conducted the operation after midnight and took private vehicles to intercept them. However, the accused were comfortable with the topography of the area and ran towards the railway tracks between Masjid and Dockyard road station and escaped. As the area is not well-lit and has high traffic of fast trains, we could not pursue them for long,” said Atulchandra Kulkarni, joint commissioner of police (crime).
Sources also said the accused were highly violent and athletic. “One of them jumped from a 30-foot high bridge,” said another officer. He also said the accused picked up stones lining the tracks and pelted them at the officers, slowing their progress and also injuring many. The attack on the policemen by drug peddlers of Nigerian origin is not the first, said another officer who was part of the operation. The arrested accused have been identified as Infunanya Ginika Minke (37) and Ique Chikwneni Emaniyal (24), both Nigerian nationals.
Sources said that Minke, who was jailed previously was out on bail and is the alleged mastermind. “They were found with packets containing cocaine, each weighing 20 grams,” said Mr Kulkarni. The officials also found that accused would camp in a scarcely populated building owned by the Bombay Port Trust. “It is a four-storey building where only two families live and they would first meet there and then head out in taxis to areas around Wadibunder,” said an officer.
The police also seized seven mobiles, a digital weighing machine and Rs 44,000 in cash. “The operation left eight policemen injured with senior inspector Santosh Bagwe in a near critical state. Some of them ambushed Bagwe and would have crushed his head with a stone but ran away after we fired a round to frighten them,” said another officer. Bagwe is undergoing treatment at JJ Hospital along with senior inspector Ajay Sawant (unit V) who sustained injuries to his leg and ankle.
Sources have said that the crime branch was contacting various departments to curb the menace of drug peddling in Wadibunder area. “We will write to the railway police force (RPF), the railways, BMC and even the local police to help us put up preventive measures. For instance, we want the railways to increase lighting near the tracks leading to Masjid, Sandhurst and Dockyard road stations,” said a senior officer.
Source: The Asian Age