Ketan Tanna and Yatish Suvarna on the changing character of drug parties
Aphone call confirms the date. The place is still a secret. The next day, an email arrives giving the time and the location. A scanned image of a roughly scrawled map is in the attachment. The rave party is somewhere in Karjat, on the outer fringes of Mumbai. The boys go to the location and they stand flummoxed in the middle of desolation. There is nothing here. And itâ€™s around one in the morning. They feel silly. Then, someone notices an arrow with the logo of the shadowy organiser. There are many such arrows along the road. The hint is unmistakable. The boys follow the arrows for over 10 kilometres. The distant lull of trance music reaches them. They arrive at some kind of a lawn with half a dozen small tents. About six to eight people are dancing in every tent. Finally, the pilgrims are in the middle of a rave, a name given to parties where drugs are available. In the psychedelic moonlight, one can see about 40 young boys and 20 girls scattered around, almost all of them dressed in casual clothes as though this is a college canteen. There is no decadent hysteria nor semi-naked lovers. Everybody is in his or her own world. Somewhere, white ecstasy tablets pass hands, somewhere else, there is the smell of grass. There is word that cocaine and LSD too are available. This was about two and a half years ago.
These days, the discretion has somewhat crumbled. Old-timers are shocked at how audaciously invitations are being handed out. The recent Pune rave party that was busted and resulted in media images of scores of young BPO workers looking morosely at the ground, was advertised on Orkut social groups and on sites like www.isratrance.com. So wide was the net of the organisers that people from places like Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Ahmedabad had accepted the offer and landed in Pune. It was not surprising that cops came too.
The networks of raves have traditionally been exclusive channels. Friends tell their trusted friends and the happy crowd grows. Cellphones and internet chat rooms have become the chief dispensers of news and increasingly, the law enforcement is finding ways to infiltrate. The organisers of rave parties have developed their own brand identity. And DJs have become the brand ambassadors of the organisers. In fact, some of the DJs double up as drug peddlers. At the party in Nallur, near Hosur, on November 13 last year, the DJ had allegedly made arrangements with an associate for distributing cocaine, ecstasy and ganja. The revellers, between the ages of 20 and 30, were not the prodigal children of the rich, but middle-class professionals in the software, hotel and fashion industries.
What began as deviant fun of the rich has today infiltrated the working class. Many middle-class youngsters aspire to go to such rave parties just to experience first-hand an exhilarating subculture, not knowing how deeply enmeshed such parties are with criminal elements.
Police sources say that drug cartels are directly involved in raves because they are convenient mass outlets. Puneâ€™s parties are known for the preponderance of foreigners and students from various states. In Mumbai, a rave party called Trance Ganesha is organised near Mahalaxmi around Ganesh Chaturthi and is attended by the rich and famous. But it is Goa that has for long been the epicentre of the rave culture. And this culture is believed to be controlled by Russian gangs. Drug cartels in Goa are most active in Anjuna, Arpora, Morjim, Saligaon and Palolem.
Enforcement agencies in India are waking up to the use of the internet as the gateway to rave parties. Recently, a senior officer from Orkut met Sanjay Mohite, deputy commissioner of police, crime branch, Mumbai, and agreed to share the IP addresses of those that are breaking Indian laws. The officer did ask the Mumbai Police to prove which sections of the law were being violated by the offenders. The Mumbai Police then read out the various sections of the IPC and CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code). Three specific cases have been processed by Orkut and the IP addresses, the cyber footprints of a net user, have been given to the Mumbai Police. It is not easy though to trace visitors of a chat room only from their IP addresses, but they are vital clues. The Mumbai Police has been cultivating a close relationship with internet service providers. A few days ago, top internet service providers assured Mohite that any request from the police will be attended to in 48 hours. Meanwhile, the Mumbai Police is today equipped to crack a password of four letters in 15 minutes. But then again, most passwords do not have just four letters anymore. Only rave does. TNN