08 March 2012
By Partha Sarathi Biswas
Close on the heels of the police stumbling upon opium poppy cultivation in the neighbouring districts of Satara and Sangli, now it was the turn of the Pune rural police to come across similar cultivations in the district. On Wednesday, rural police conducted raids in two fields in Shirur taluka and destroyed around 75 kg of opium poppy.
The raids were conducted in the villages of Nharve and Vadgaon Rasai, situated around 60 km from Pune. In both the cases, opium poppy was seen cultivated as an intercrop in between onion and sugarcane. Two persons were arrested in both the cases.
In the village of Nharve, the police came across 186 plants of opium which were seized and destroyed. The opium poppy was found in the field of Satish Gangadhar Korekar and his family.
The total weight of the opium poppy seized was 24 kg. Korekar was arrested by the police subsequently.
Police inspector, Ashok Khirsagar, while talking to DNA, said, “We received information about possible poppy cultivation in Shirur and conducted surprise raids.”
In the second case, Dattatreya Chavan of Vadgaon Rasai village, was arrested after the police came across opium poppy cultivation in his field. “We uprooted 900 plants from the field weighing 51 kg. The opium poppy was cultivated as an intercrop between onions planted on the fringes of Chavan’s sugarcane plantation,” said Khirsagar. Both the Korekar and Chavan families feigned ignorance about the presence of opium poppy in their field.
Pandurang Chavan, the brother of the arrested, stated that the opium poppy plants were planted out of ignorance by his brother.
A relative of the Korekar family, who refused to be named, said, “We had given the fields to be cultivated by a certain Ratan Dhangare, and we do not know what he had planted.”
The police refused to accept these claims and pointed out how both the fields were adjacent to the residents of those arrested and as per revenue records were cultivated by themselves.
However, the find has rattled the rural police, who do not rule out existence of large-scale plantations in the interior of the district. Khirsagar said, “We will be continuing our searches across the rural areas for the next few days.
The raids were conducted simultaneously by a team of rural police. Sandeep Gaikwad, the local talathi came to Nhavre after hearing the news.”