New Delhi, India
“No amount of international drug control policies, local legislation, or law enforcement efforts like crop eradication have succeeded in controlling or reducing cultivation of illicit drugs in places like Afghanistan.”
Devendra Dutt spent the majority of his career trying to eradicate drugs from society. He joined the Customs and Excise service in an attempt to help improve his country’s economy by preventing smuggling, drug trafficking and tax evasion. During his 34 years of service with the Government of India, he held several sensitive assignments including Chief Commissioner of Customs of the State of Gujarat and the deputy chief of the Narcotics Control Bureau, the chief law enforcement and intelligence agency of India responsible for fighting drug trafficking and the abuse of illegal substances.
“I wanted to join the fight against drug trafficking adversely affecting our country’s economy and its people,” Devendra says. “I enforced the drug laws in my jurisdictions very vigorously and zealously and was a proud recipient of commendations from India and abroad. However, over a period of time, I began to see that our successes in a few cases of drug seizures and indictment of so-called top drug traffickers had not changed the illicit drug scenario. That is when I started to think that the world may have to accept that drugs are there to stay in some measure; fresh ‘out of box’ approaches may have to be given a chance.”
The turning point for Devendra came when he arrested a young Indian border police commando on drug charges. After failing to bully and bribe the arresting officers, the young man jumped from the seventh floor of Devendra’s office building and ended his life. “This unfortunate incident shook me,” Devendra recalls. “I painfully saw how his young children too suffered. I often felt that a different approach should be tried in such cases to deal with the delinquent.”
On a broader level, Devendra has seen that no amount of enforcement can put a full-stop to drug trafficking and use. “No amount of international drug control policies, local legislation, or law enforcement efforts like crop eradication have succeeded in controlling or reducing cultivation of illicit drugs in places like Afghanistan,” he notes as an example.
Currently, Devendra serves as secretary of the Institute for Narcotics Studies and Analysis, an NGO that studies and evaluates regulatory and control mechanisms of drugs.