Busted in India

Busted in India

Busted in India

Being busted in India on drugs charges is certainly not on anyone’s intinerary when travelling in and around Asia, but it can happen. India, with its long history of virtually institutionalised hashish (marijuana resin or pollen) smoking, is somewhere one can get lulled into thinking that smoking hashish is a normal thing to do.

Walk 100 metres from your hotel and the chances are someone will offer you some hashish, possibly even opium or brown sugar (low grade smoking heroin). Visit Hindu temples in India and you will usually find a sadhu, a spiritual renunciate, sitting somewhere smoking hashish in a chillum pipe, India’s favoured method for smoking. “Boom Shankar” the sadhu will cry, offering a salute to whatever deity he is devoted to, most often Shiva whose name is often invoked with chillum smoking, and then touching the chillum to his forehead, and then take a long draw on the pipe, exhaling a prodigious amount of smoke.

This hash smoking by holy men is enshrined in Hindu culture and these sadhus are allowed to possess, smoke and sell hashish. Generally most hashish in India is grown in the Himalayan foothills around Manali and Kashmir in northern India as well as in Nepal. It is very easy and cheap to buy hashish in India and foreigners, particularly those attracted to Goa and the mountain resort towns, will often smoke or smuggle hashish without much thought to its illegality and the potential risks involved.

When one does get arrested by the police it comes as a complete and utter shock. Initially the possibility usually exists to pay a bribe which is connected to the quantity in your possession and also how much money you have. Failing that, you have a serious problem. I was arrested with six kilos of hash that I had been planning on taking to Amsterdam.

Due to the US Government’s world wide War on Drugs which produces annual payments to countries like India to stem the flow of drugs to the West, hashish is classified the same as opium, heroin, cocaine and other powder drugs. The minimum mandatory penalty, that one really only finds out when it is too late, for possession of five grams or more of hashish is 10 years in prison.

Once arrested you lose complete control over your life. Instantly you are transported to the very bottom of society, and the shame is overwhelming.

When I was arrested the cops were like a pack of wild dogs, and when I was taken to the ‘interview room’ at the police station where I saw the various implements of truth extraction and police ‘sport’ and the bloodstains on the walls, a fuller realisation of the situation I was in dawned on me. I was not tortured but the threat of savagery was hanging over my head for the two weeks I was in the police station lock-up prior to being moved to the local prison, a terror that froze my guts.

My pockets were immediately emptied with all my money divided up and pocketed by the cops. They surrounded me and pushed me around, shooting questions, some relevant and others disgusting references to sex, The following morning each of the cops came by my cell with a tola (10grams) of the hashish I had been busted with as their cut.

I was in prison for a total of three years and eight months until I was finally released after successfully appealing against my conviction to 10 years 20 months earlier. I learned many things about myself while I was there, some ugly and some positive. Prison is a tough school.

For the complete story of my life in India prior to my arrest through to being released and returning to Australia to restart my life, see my book, Busted in India, a story of an Indian hash bust, available on Amazon as an ebook.

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