Five Indians who were recently caught carrying cocaine in China today pleaded innocence, saying they were merely couriers transporting consumer goods between Kolkata and Kunming and may have been cheated by drug gangs.
The five men who were caught in two batches in the last few weeks at the Kunming airport were today provided consular access with Indian officials in Kunming city during which they sought Government of India’s support to get them repatriated.
They have been transporting goods between the two cities as couriers for some time and they claim they have no inkling that some of the food packets and laptop bags they have been carrying were stuffed with cocaine, officials told PTI here.
They said the goods were procured from different markets in Kolkata but did not disclose any specific details or names.
The five men, all residents of Kolkata, were identified as Sheikh Ahmad Ali (46), Akrar Khan (33), Feroz Khan (31), Sheikh Ismail (24) and Maqsud Alam (24).
Ismail is reportedly a student in one of the colleges in Kolkata.
It appears that they were caught because of extra security mounted ahead of the G20 summit held Hangzhou city on September 4-5.
Security was beefed up all over China during that time with airports equipped with special scanners.
The five will face investigations followed by court proceedings.
Besides them, seven Indians are being currently held in prions at Guangxi and Guangzhou cities on drug smuggling charges.
Drug trafficking is a very serious offence in China which in some cases even resulted in death penalties or long periods of imprisonment.
Also, India and China have no prisoner swap agreement for the five to be repatriated to Kolkata to serve their prison terms there.
In July, a Colombian model was sentenced to 15 years in jail for drug smuggling in China. She was arrested last year at Guangzhou airport over allegedly attempting to smuggle drugs in her laptop bag.