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Udta Assam: Drug Abuse Saga

Tommy Singh, a psychedelic drug addict character from the 2016 film Udta Punjab comes to life with increasing drug abuse cases in the state. Tommy Singh played by Shahid Kapoor explicitly portrayed Punjab’s scenario from the early 2000s. Whereas, the present day scenario in Assam remains no different with over a lakh illegal cough syrup units busted from the black market, while the state was under partial curfew.

The one prominent agenda which the recently elected Hon’ble Chief Minister of Assam Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma has been personally looking into after the Covid crisis would be the issue of Drugs in the state. The CM has been personally keeping track and updating all the raids against drug peddling and smuggling within the region. ‘Fight Against Drugs’ as the tweets read have shown new waves from the Assam Police and the administration. 

The initial raids began right on the day Dr. Sarma was sworn in as the CM, after which a series of raids were publicly notified by the top cops. Shri Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta, DGP Assam Police is also seen to be very particular with this mission on busting drug rackets. Alongside the #WarOnDrugs mission, the Assam Police is also actively conducting drives against illicit liquor and vehicle theft. 

In the past five weeks, over two dozen drug raids were conducted, where 1,35,379 (Tweets from @AssamPolice) units of illegal codeine-based cough syrup, with the name Phensedyl, were recovered from across all districts of Assam. This makes it the highest smuggled drug implying it to have higher demands. 

“We will crack down on anything and anyone whosoever is in connection with drug peddling and smuggling”, said Munna Prasad Gupta (IPS), Commissioner of Police, Assam when asked about the mission.

Codeine Based Cough Syrup

Phensedyl, a product of Abbott Healthcare Pvt Ltd is composed of 10.0 Mg Codeine or Codeine Sulfate in each unit of 100 ml. This makes it enough for a hit of intoxication at a minimal rate, making it further accessible for the youth. Medicinal drugs of such type are produced and supplied by the manufacturers only as per demand in the region. 

“The zonal agents and C&F agents need to carry a bill showcasing the exact figures of cough syrups sent. The company is also liable for producing in surplus and also the agents who place orders larger than demand. The whole system of supply is flawed”, said Bikram Choudhury, General Secretary of Assam Drug Dealers’ Association (ADDA). 

The Drug Route 

The huge amount of cough syrups being transported from Himachal Pradesh to Assam via motor transport crossing several state borders raises questions on the security of the nation. Many of such drugs are also at times smuggled into Bangladesh without any paperwork as informed by the General Secretary of ADDA.

According to a Hindustan Times report, Abbott Healthcare Pvt Ltd was previously booked under Sections 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sections 8, 21, 22, and 29 of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in July 2015 by Drug Control Administration (DCA), Telangana. 

The company though denied the involvement of such consignments being smuggled into Bangladesh, but the company’s product ‘Phensedyl’ still happens to be the most abused cough syrup in the state of Assam. 


The Assam Police and administrations putting up their level best to trace down all drug chains in the state has undoubtedly brought some hope to eradicate the issue of drug abuse. But, the manufacturers of such pharmaceutical drugs, the C&F agents, and local sellers play a role in its control. Unless these giant businesses cut down the demand to its actual necessity, these drugs would continue to flourish in the black markets. 

The authorities along with national Border Security Forces shall lay stricter vigilance on such movements. These drugs have done no good than entailing a fraction of the youth towards an unsafe and dark future.

What do you think?

Written by Aditya Pran Changkakati

Aditya Pran is a multimedia journalist based out of Guwahati, Assam covering civic issues, healthcare, and social issues from the region.


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