Ephedrine haul case: Accused gets threat not to turn approver
Thane : An accused in the recently busted multi-crore drug racket case here has allegedly been threatened by the drug mafia in Thane jail not to turn approver in the case, the prosecution has informed a local court.
The accused, Punit Shringi, a former senior official of Avon Lifesciences Ltd who was till recently lodged in Thane Jail and is presently in custody of Gujarat ATS, informed the police and prosecution about the threat to eliminate him if he records his statement before magistrate, Special Public Prosecutor Shishir Hiray told the court of Special Judge and District Judge H M Patwardhan yesterday.
Hiray said this in court while contesting the bail pleas of some the accused arrested in the multi-crore drug racket involving Avon Lifesciences.
Earlier, the Thane Police had told the media persons that one of the arrested persons in the case had in a statement under section 164 of CrPC given details of the modus operandi and about the crucial meetings held in Kenya and Dubai regarding the ephedrine sale.
The police were also trying to record Shrine’s statement under CrPC section 164, which is crucial to the investigation in the case.
Recently, former actress Mamta Kulkarni was named as a prime accused in a multi-crore drug racket linked to drug baron Vicky Goswami, with Mumbai Police claiming that she was actively involved in the illicit activities.
Police have initiated the process for extradition of Kulkarni and Goswami, who are said to be in a relationship and are currently based in Kenya.
Shringi is a key link in the drug cartel, as the operation and the work of processing raw ephedrine and its transportation was allegedly supervised by him.
In all, there were 17 accused in the case, of whom seven were still at large. The remaining 10 were arrested and are now in judicial custody.
The drug racket came to light when police seized around 18.5 tonne of ephedrine, worth approximately Rs 2,000 crore, after raiding the premises of Avon Lifesciences Ltd in Maharashtra’s Solapur district in April.
According to police, ephedrine, which is a controlled drug, was allegedly being diverted from the Solapur unit of Avon Lifesciences and sent abroad after processing.
The ephedrine powder is used for sniffing and is also used to produce popular party drug methamphetamine.
Meanwhile, Hiray opposed the bail plea of four of the accused in the case saying that they don’t deserve it as they were all partners in the crime.
The four accused in the drug case – Manoj Jain, Punit Shringi, Rajendra Dimri and Babasaheb Dhote – had applied for bail before the court on various grounds.
Their counsels Ayaz Khan and Nana Mothe had earlier said that their clients deserved bail as there was no ground to detain them any more.
However, Hiray opposed the bail plea citing various case laws to justify his contention.
He informed the court that several witnesses had in their statements revealed startling facts about the entire operation in the Solapur factory of Avon Lifesciences which was against the regulations.
A number of inspections were carried out by the FDA authorities, but they were never shown the stock of around 12 tonnes of ephedrine kept in a shed in the company premises.
There were a couple of thefts of the material, but Jain had advised the staff against approaching the police with complaint, fearing that if they come to the factory they may unearth the misdeeds and the huge stock of the material stored in the shed, the prosecution said.
In his submission, Hiray also mentioned the trail of ‘hawala’ and ‘angadia’ transactions in connection with the drug case.