The Barabanki Narcos: Busting India’s Most Notorious Drug Cartel by Aloke Lal


The Barabanki Narcos: Busting India’s Most Notorious Drug Cartel by Aloke Lal

Published by: Hachette India

Non Fiction: True Crime, 190p

Rating: 3.50/5 stars

Book summary

In 1984 – a politically charged time in northern India – Aloke Lal, a young officer, is posted to Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh, as the Chief of Police.

In the small, backward district, known for little other than its opium production and smuggling rackets, Lal finds himself in the middle of a well-entrenched web of crime run by a dangerous drug mafia whose seemingly endless supply of black money appears to have bought out local politicians and district officials and influenced higher rungs of power.

Determined to annihilate the opium chain, Lal sets out on a path that sees him make unlikely allies and deadly enemies as he is led from the red-light districts of Lucknow to midnight highway interceptions and perilous raids that shake up the Barabanki cartel. But do such actions against powerful criminal organizations ever come without consequences? And what political games are being played in the corridors of power even as this upright officer tries to ride the gathering storm of an enraged underworld?

The Barabanki Narcos is the thrilling true story behind the largest-ever opium bust in history – the methodical build-up to the operation, the deadly aftermath and the ensuing events that would leave a lasting impact on north Indian politics – narrated by the man who led the action at the centre of it all.

About the author:

Jane Aloke Lal is a fomer Indian Police Service Officer who has been awarded medals for meritorious and distinguished services, rising to the top rank of Director General of Police. Apart from being a writer, Aloke Lal is a well known painter.

My Review*

*Thank you Hachette India for the review copy. All opinions are my own.

Coming from a region whose proximity to the Golden Triangle, which produces the world’s purest and maximum amount of heroin and other narcotic drugs, I was most fascinated to read this account of a drug bust in the 80s by a Police Officer in the badlands of North India. Most non fiction writing by Indian authors, except historical narratives lack steam and tend to be dry but not this one. The sole complaint you will have of this book is that you want more anecdotes, more stories. At 190 pages, this is too short a read, more so since the build up is crisp and taut that leads to an electrifying account of the largest opium bust ever.

As the tittle itself gives it out, this is Aloke Lal’s account of the way he tackled the drug/opium menace in Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh: starting from how he builds contacts with the local people, steering clear of political interference, corruption and intimidation by gangs. The humane look at how addiction ravages individuals, families and society as a whole is captured poignantly. Apart from the events that lead to the drug busts, the author brings a vivid capture of the socio economic and political backdrop of Uttar Pradesh in the 80s and takes one to a time when the Indian Police fought its battles with the right adversary and came on top too.











Accused: The Unsolved Murder of Elizabeth Andes by Amber Hunt, Amanda Rossmann


Accused: The Unsolved Murder of Elizabeth Andes by Amber Hunt, Amanda Rossmann

Published by: Diversion Books

E copy

True crime

Ratings: 3.75/5

Book summary:  

When Elizabeth Andes was found bound, stabbed, and strangled in her Ohio apartment in 1978, police and prosecutors decided within hours it was an open-and-shut case. Within days, Bob Young, a 23-year-old football player who’d found his college sweetheart’s lifeless body on their bedroom floor, was charged with her murder. To this day, police and prosecutors still say they had the right guy–even though two juries, one criminal and one civil, disagreed, and Young walked away a free man.

Beth’s case went cold. Nearly four decades later, two Cincinnati reporters re-examined the murder and discovered that law enforcement ignored leads that might have uncovered who really killed Beth Andes. It wasn’t that there weren’t other people to look at. There were plenty. But no one bothered…until now.

*My review:

 *Thank you NetGalley for an Ecopy of the book

I love following true crime stories and cases for ultimately, real life mysteries are far better than the fictional ones. After reading a brief summary of ‘Accused: The Unsolved Murder of Elizabeth Andes by Amber Hunt and Amanda Rossmann’ both authors who are journalists with the The Cincinnati Enquirer, I knew I had to read this book which looks into a case that’s been left to turn cold for close to 40 yrs now.

When Elizabeth Andes is found bound, stabbed, and strangled in her Ohio apartment in 1978, police and prosecutors decides within hours that it is an open-and-shut case. The only person charged in the case is 23yr old Bob Young, Elizabeth’s boyfriend who found her dead body. Two juries find Young not guilty but there is just no further investigation in who could have killed Elizabeth.

The book is not only based on exhaustive examination of available court and police papers but also gives readers a comprehensive picture of the socio criminal backdrop that existed in the late 70s with a burst of serial killings and hikes in crime rates across the US. But even as the focus is on pursuing leads that the police has not even considered till date, what strikes me is the very humane manner in which the friends of the deceased have been dealt with by the two journalists. The authors have gone to great lengths to lay bare the sequence of events and in doing so, highlighted gaps that the police have not taken into account in their investigations.

I love following True crime cases and investigations, which is why I looked up this book. I would definitely recommend this book for true crime readers. If you are a fan of ‘The Making of A Murderer’, the documentary TV series you will surely take to this one.