Dr Reza Borhani (50), an Australian, was arrested with Rs 1.8 crore worth of LSD popularly known as Acid, a psychedelic drug in suburban Bandra on November 24, 2019. He had a meeting with N Biren Singh in the latter’s office chamber on September 17, 2019. When contacted, the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) maintained that it was just an experimental endorsement and there was no official link with Reza Borhani’s company.
By Yambem Laba with Paojel Chaoba
The Australian national, who is being incarcerated in an NDPS case, had met Manipur chief minister N Biren at the latter’s office just two months before his arrest by Mumbai Police’s anti-narcotic cell along with Rs 1.8 crore worth of LSD popularly known as Acid, a psychedelic drug.
Dr Reza Borhani (50) was arrested by the Azad Maidan unit of the Anti-Narcotic Cell near a hotel in suburban Bandra on November 24, 2019. Borhani, who is married to an Assamese girl Tora Khasgir Borhani, holds a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) Card.
What comes as a big surprise was his meeting with Manipur chief Minister N Biren Singh. 50-year-old Reza Borhani, whose visiting card indicates himself as founder and president of Cannabis Health and Science Pvt Ltd, had visited Imphal in September 2019. He had a meeting with N Biren Singh in the latter’s office chamber on September 17, 2019.
According to highly placed official sources, Reza Borhani had later submitted a petition dated September 19, 2019 to the Chief Minister although on the letterhead it was addressed to the Hon’ble Horticultural Minister.
In the petition, Borhani sought a license/permit to hold, transport and use of the seeds, flowers and leaves of the Cannabis plant from Manipur for purpose of scientific research and testing in institutions laboratories and hospitals within Manipur and in the states of Mizoram, Meghalaya, Assam, Karnataka, Orissa, Goa and Maharashtra to his company Cannabis Health and Sciences Pvt Ltd (CHS).
The petition bears the Chief Minister’s Secretariat R.R.No.148 of the day and CM Biren immediately endorsed it to the Special Secretary (Home).
Endorsing Reza Borhani’s request, the chief minister instructed the Special Secretary (Home) to “allow and issue permits for samples”. Many consider such an endorsement by the Chief Minister, who declared “war on drugs” as an admission of failure of his government’s drive against plantation of cannabis.
A brief fact check has revealed that Borhani’s firm is an unlisted private company incorporated on April 9, 2019. The company that is into manufacturing chemicals and chemical products based on Cannabis or Ganja is located in Ulubari in Guwahati, Assam.
Experts have expressed doubt about the power of the Manipur government to issue such licence/permit for transporting in the states of Mizoram, Meghalaya, Assam, Karnataka, Orissa, Goa and Maharashtra in name of research by the unlisted company.
In India, cannabis is banned and its possession is deemed to be unlawful as per the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.
As per the NDPS Act, 1985, cannabis is defined in Section 2 (iii) of the act. According to this section cannabis (hemp) is defined as: (a) Charas – a separated resin, in whatever form, whether crude or purified; obtained from the cannabis plant, which also includes the concentrated preparation and resin known as hashish oil or liquid hashish; (b) ganja – the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant, (excluding the seeds and leaves when not accompanied by the tops), by whatever name they may be known or designated; and (c) any mixture, with or without any natural material, of any of the above forms of cannabis or any drink prepared therefrom.
Though medical and industrial plantations are granted in few states like Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh, sale of the products by farmers to a private party directly is strictly banned.
Arrest of Dr Reza Borhani with LSD worth Rs 1.8 crore has also exposed his sinister intention of misusing the permit/license to hoodwink security personnel while running his pan-India cartel in the name of cannabis research.
Just experimental endorsement, no official link with Reza Borhani, says CMO
When contacted, the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) maintained that it was just an experimental endorsement and there was no official link with Reza Borhani’s Cannabis Health and Sciences Pvt Ltd (CHS). After learning of his arrest, it came to light that the man had vested interest and further dealing, which were yet to be processed, was not done with the concerned department, said the CMO.
However, the Chief Minister’s Office could not categorically deny the fact that CM Biren Singh had already begun initiating the process to make the cultivation of Ganja a legal entity in Manipur. There have been numerous protests from “Meira Paibis” and other CSOs decrying the reported move by the Government of Manipur to legalise the cultivation of Ganja in Manipur. This is perhaps the first time, CM Biren’s signature has been found towards implementing the legalisation of Ganja plantations in Manipur.