Punjab Police on Sunday claimed to have busted an inter-state racket with the arrest of three persons involved in smuggling of opium in an ambulance.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (Rupnagar Range) Gurpreet Singh Bhullar expressed concern over the misuse of emergency services and asked officials to get the list of ambulances from hospitals in Mohali, Rupnagar, and Fatehgarh Sahib districts.
He also suggested using a special beacon on top of the ambulance which could signify whether there was a patient in the ambulance or not.
Police seized 8 kg of opium from an ambulance on the Ambala-Chandigarh highway on Saturday, said Mohali Senior Superintendent of Police Vivek Sheel Soni, while addressing the media here.
The accused had used the ambulance 10-12 times to smuggle opium from Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh in the past, he said.
However, their fresh attempt to smuggle opium by the same means was foiled by the Punjab police on Saturday, when a team posted near Dappar village stopped an ambulance coming from Ambala side.
The police found two persons inside the vehicle, one posing as a patient, lying on a stretcher-like seat, and another sitting by him. The third one was driving the vehicle.
When they checked, police did not find any member of a medical team or oxygen cylinder, or even the first-aid kit in the vehicle, which stoked their suspicion.
They thoroughly checked the ambulance, and found 8 kg of opium hidden inside a pillow used by the person posing as patient, said police.
The DIG said as the Punjab Police have strict directions from the Chief Minister to root out drug menace from the state, Mohali Police have busted an inter-state module engaged in smuggling of narcotics.
He said the instance has raised serious concern about misuse of emergency services.
"This has come to the fore during the investigation that how the accused persons had purchased a second-hand ambulance and started using it for smuggling of drugs," he said.
DIG Bhullar said that he has also asked all three senior superintendents of police in the three districts earlier mentioned, to hold meetings with representatives of all the hospitals there and get the list of ambulances assigned to them.
The instruction is aimed at ensuring that genuine patients get a safe passage, and the anti-social elements are prevented from using the emergency services for criminal activities, said Bhullar.
Sharing details about drugs recoveries in his range since April 1, the DIG said that police seized a total of 2.41 kg heroin, 20.42 kg opium, 2.10 quintal poppy husk, 200 grams charas, 7.29 kg ganja, 40,945 intoxicant injections, and also Rs 8.08 lakh in cash.
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