Indian police have said rats ate about 600kg of cannabis after a court demanded that the confiscated drugs be produced as evidence during a trial for people facing smuggling charges.
Police in the northern city of Mathura wrote to magistrates to say 581kg of the drugs had gone missing from two storerooms after being seized from traffickers more than five years ago.
Public prosecutor Ranveer Singh said the drugs were eaten by rodents and could not be produced.
“There is no place in the police station where the stored goods can be saved from the rats. The remaining [cannabis] from the huge consignment was destroyed by officers,” prosecutors told the court.
Police arrested six people on suspicion of smuggling on a motorway and seized the drugs in two consignments in 2018 and 2019.
The alleged smugglers are now on trial for drug trafficking and other narcotics charges.
Police delivered samples of the drugs to the court at the beginning of the trial but were mandated to produce the actual cache to bolster their case and obtain a conviction.
The court asked senior police officers to ensure the safety of the evidence, which was meant to be presented on Saturday.
The prosecution told the court that nearly 700kg of cannabis stored across several police stations in the district were under threat from rats.
They also spoke of the inability to deal with the rodents, which they said were overwhelming the most secure places inside police stations.
“Being small in size, the rats have no fear of police, nor can the police officers be considered experts in solving the problem,” prosecutors said.
Trials in India can take years, if not decades, and many accused often escape punishment over poor police investigations or evidence management.
Prosecutors in eastern Jharkhand state told a court in 2017 that rats consumed nearly 45kg of marijuana that was stored in a trafficking case involving 150kg of drugs.
Police in neighbouring Bihar state that year said rats drank about one million litres of alcohol kept in storerooms in one of the country’s few dry states.