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End Of Ravelry

Even as details of what could be a global drug racket are emerging, there are speculations of the probe in Pune being a publicity stunt

RAVE AND RANT: The accused being taken into police custody

"Our network of informers gives us information on rave parties."
The air was thick with sweet-smelling smoke and the rave party was peaking at 2.30 a.m. last Sunday, when a bunch of 25 policemen in their psychedelic party-gear drifted into Donje village farmhouse, 30 km from Pune. Accompanying the Pune Rural Police was a team of mediapersons who had travelled from the city to catch the action "live". After some mingling and dancing with the unsuspecting and intoxicated youth for about 15 minutes, the police nabbed the drug-peddlers and revellers for "vulgar dancing".

For the uninitiated, a rave party is an all-night dance event where disc jockeys (DJ) play trance music throughout. What started as the most awaited Holi bash turned into a nightmare for many young professionals and students. Interestingly, this is not the only rave party to be organised with drugs and alcohol. Like all others, the invites for this party too were sent through SMS and posts on the Internet. Mumbai's Madh Island and Goa are known destinations for such raves, although the Pune Rural Police identified Donje village farmhouse as their target. Says Assistant Police Inspector (Pune Rural Police) Rajendra Galande, "The youngsters were dancing in an obscene manner." However, reporters contend that they were only dancing like they do in discotheques.

Approximately 280 people aged between 20 and 35 years were arrested under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. While 150 people arrested earlier have been granted bail by the local court, others like Paramjit Singh Brar and Dhruv Kaushal (alleged drug-peddlers), Ramdas Aghawane (owner of the farmhouse), Sharad Shankar and Shivendru Gupta (businessmen from Chennai), Stephen Mullar (German DJ) and Christopher (alleged German peddler) have been remanded to police custody till March 9. "The others arrested include air hostesses, it professionals, call centre employees and students from Mumbai, Pune, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana," says Vishwas Nangre-Patil, superintendent of police (Pune Rural). Investigations have revealed the name of an Irish woman Shania-who is a well-known international drug-peddler-behind the Pune rave party. The police have arrested two other drug dealers, Asif and Rafiq, from Pune, who were caught in other rave parties earlier.

ECSTASY: It's a synthetic drug with amphetamine-like and hallucinogenic properties
COCAINE: Leads to symptoms include hyperactivity, restlessness, increased blood pressure and euphoria
KETAMINES: May result in loss of consciousness
LSD ACID: Causes hallucinations
ROHYPNOL: Numbs senses
GHB: Causes depression
MAGIC MUSHROOMS: Has similar effect as LSD
AMPHETAMINE: The most widely used drug, cheaper than Ecstasy

While there's no denying that the police did seize 2.5 kg ganja and charas and seven bottles of phenyn fine hydrochloride (California drop), they have no explanation as to why they chose this party over others which have been held in Pune, Mumbai and Goa. MTV video jockey (VJ) Nikhil Chinappa feels the event was targeted at getting publicity and said, "Why should this particular event be singled out and how come journalists were present?"

According to the website that advertised the rave in Pune, two other parties were being held in Delhi and Bangalore at the same time. Although the police refute the incidence of rave parties all through the year, ravers say that such parties take place at least twice a month in the outskirts of Mumbai and Pune. Ironically whenever such raids happen, it is mostly the drug consumers who are booked and not the peddlers. Says Patrick Gomes, who has attended several parties around the Madh beach area of Mumbai, "I go to the raves for music. Although there are some people who do drugs, others only consume alcohol. There is nothing wrong with that."

The point made in this entire episode is how drug abuse has filtered down from the who's who of the society to youngsters who have more money at their disposal today. "These parties target educated youngsters who earn Rs 25,000 per month," says DCP Dilip Srirao, Anti Narcotics Cell (ANC), Mumbai Police.

Meanwhile, parents of those accused said the police were merely trying to earn accolades. "They invited the media and assuming that everyone had consumed drugs, arrested all." This is not the first time such raids have been conducted. The ANC earlier arrested 86 people following a raid in Gorai in September 2006 but that was only after their medical reports confirmed that they had consumed drugs. This time, however, the Pune Rural Police arrested 280 people without waiting for their medical reports to confirm their crime.

While the police are speculating the possible involvement of the Israeli drug mafia among others, sources say organising a rave is simple and costs between Rs 10 and Rs 15 lakh. An event management company in Mumbai says, "It's a simple modus operandi for which the most important criterion is a venue. Rave organisers sell anything between Rs 10,000 and Rs 60,000 per night for the venue. The second step is to organise a DJ and arrange for alcohol." However, the interesting bit comes in when the company on condition of anonymity admits, "For a party of 300 people, we organise 2 kg of ganja, half kg of hashish, half litre of LSD drops and at least 600 Ecstasy tablets from regular peddlers. Organisers have a fixed clientele that is informed by word of mouth. The organiser earns his due by charging an entry fee (between Rs 500 and Rs 2,000) and a premium on the drugs."

The police say they have kept a close watch on discotheques. "There are parties that serve drugs. We have created a network of informers to get information on such raves," says Srirao. Meanwhile, even as the police try to strengthen their network, raves are being held regularly. If not Mumbai or Pune, ravers find parties happening near other metros. Goa has the biggest rave parties during Christmas and New Year for which all one needs is to log on to a few websites to be in the loop. With little check on the narcotics trade in the country and a few stray raids, drug abuse at rave parties is bound to continue. "Our network of informers gives us information on rave parties."

Maharashtra: Swindlers' List
Shiv Sena: Mumbai Mutiny


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