Drug Menace in Manipur: A critical evaluation
- Part 1 -

Khuman Hanglem *

 Drug Menace in Manipur: A critical evaluation

It was 1973 Manipur, Pacha Meetei's Novel- "Imphal amasung Magee Eshing Nungshit ki Fibam" was honoured with the first Sahitya Akademi award in Manipuri Novel. The story revolved around the impending socio-political issues of Manipur. The author introduced a woman character called Priyadarshini who loves her Motherland unconditionally and called her origin land as "Holy Place, Our Holy Place".

This Holy Place was once an enchanted land and free from drugs where youth were the harbingers of change. But is this just a mere glorification through folklores and literary narratives? The present reality of Manipur often paints a drab picture. One finding reveals that almost half of the population is affected directly or indirectly with drugs. The Magnitude of Substance Use in India, 2019 report listed Manipur amongst the top 10 alcohol dependent states.

Despite certain efforts by the Government as well as various social pressure groups, the issue still persists often derailing the image and inflicting a huge genocide to the future generations. This essay will answer several questions that surround the topic and paint a practical roadmap to tackle the menace of drug in Manipur.


One might imagine why Manipur is more vulnerable as compared to other regions. The answer to this would lie in its geographical proximity. The political boundary is adjacent to the infamous 'Golden Triangle' which spreads across Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar.

Production of Burmese "no.4 Heroin" since the 1970s began to supply abundantly in the regions of Manipur and Nagaland. The list of substances used and consumed in Manipur includes:

o Tobacco products - Paan and Cigarettes
o Ganja (Marijuana)/Cannabis
o Alcohol
o Opium
o Spasmo Proxivon (SP)—sympathetic pain reliever capsule
o Amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS)
o Codeine cough syrup
o Ephedrine
o Pseudo-Epherine
o Brown sugar
o Crystal Methamphetamine ('ice', ice drug)
o Heroin powder
o Methaqualone
o World is Yours (Methamphetamine).
o Nitazepam
o Nitrosum 10 (N10)
o Valium

The continuum demand-supply chain coupled with border loopholes favours transportation of drugs through different routes. As per the intelligence reports seven such routes have been identified:

1. Tamu(Myanmar) – Moreh – Imphal. From Imphal to Kohima/Dimapur or Jiribam/Silchar (Assam);
2. Molnoi/Tahan(Myanmar) – Kamjong – Imphal;
3. Hinekyan/Chikha (Myanmar) – Behiang (Manipur) – Churchandpur – Imphal;
4. Somrah(Myanmar)–Tusom (Manipur) - Kharasom- Jessami – Kohima (Nagaland;
5. Bokan (Myanmar) – Molcham – Sugnu – Imphal: From Imphal to Jiribam – Silchar or Kohima- Dimapur;
6. Khampat (Myanmar)– New Somtal-Sugnu–Churachandpur – Imphal: From Imphal to Jiribam – Silchar or Kohima – Dimapur, and
7. Air and postal routes.

However, local plantations and pharmaceutical drugs traded in black markets and sold over the counters without prescriptions are ignored. But 'drugs' are 'drugs' and there cannot be any distinction. A careful analysis and a deep research with effective Cooperation and Collaboration with the general public is indispensable.


Quantitatively, Manipur along with Nagaland has the highest prevalence of Injecting Drug Users (IDUs). Unsafe practices, needle sharing have led Manipur to become the "AIDS Capital of India" by the 1990s. The Social Awareness and Service Organisation (SASO), a local NGO estimates nearly 34,500 IDUs in Manipur alone. Prevalence of IDU is estimated between 1.9-2.7% of the general population and 85-90% of all users are men.

But it is not men alone, as nearly 10% of drug users in Manipur and Nagaland are women.

The increased rate of consumption depends on a multitude of factors. The Free Movement Regime and the long border further creates a good atmosphere of increased drug trafficking.

Another factor is the issue of loose regulation. India's Pharmaceutical industry is the 3rd largest by volume and thus essential raw chemicals like acetic anhydride are easily smuggled to Myanmar. Thus northeast India sandwiches between 'supplier of raw materials' and manufacturer of 'finished drugs'.

The present infestation of armed militants which is also believed to link directly or indirectly with drug smuggling as a source of financing their activities further compounded the issue. 'Guns and drugs' can never be ignored. If the present reality has to be addressed, we need a holistic approach which also involves rethinking the entire socio-political and economic fabric of the state.

Lastly, there is glorification of drugs as a status symbol & excessive politicization. In February 2013, a PRO of the Indian Army was caught with 24 crores worth of narcotic drugs assignment in Manipur. Few MLAs have served terms in Delhi's Tihar Jail for drug trafficking. This not only brings up the topic of the legitimacy of those elected but also exposes the complacent attitude of the citizenry of Manipur.


The impact of drugs abuse and consumption is manifold. One may quantify its impact on the basis of its economic or revenue loss, or the fiscal impact to correct the impending issue. Nonetheless, the hidden impact of such is far from some percentage of GDP or budget expenditures. Let us not forget the social damage, the distortion of socio-economic fabric, the disruption of family order and most importantly the prejudices meted on the Manipuris by outsiders.

On the economic front, there is considerable health and financial burden. What could be the cost of substance abuse as some % of GDP? The Union Budget allocates Rs135 crores for the implementation of the "National Policy for Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse". To this, sufficient funds have also been spent by local NGOs.

Also, Food Inflation is witnessed because of greater drug cultivation impacting the rural livelihoods as 52.81% of the workers in Manipur are engaged in Agricultural activities.

Most drug users fall in the 18-35 years of age category and hence the loss in terms of human capital is incalculable. Drug consumption limits chances of entering or remaining in the workforce and frustration again favours consumption thus creating a vicious cycle. This retards Human capital formation and also deters investors' confidence thereby leading to non-utilization of our 76.94% literacy rate.

The prevalence of HIV positive cases and the increased rate of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is another worrying trend. As per 2016-17 estimates, 1013 persons were tested HIV positive. However, prevalence of HCV has now overtaken HIV as a major serious health threat. Similar to HIV, HCV transmits through sharing injectable drugs, unprotected sex, needle-stick injury, mother-to-child transmission.

Since there is no vaccine for HCV, patients are monitored under treatments using Peginterferon and Ribavirin which is a very costly process. This again will lead to huge Out of Pocket Expenditures. And no wonder, deprivation of such capabilities leads to 36.89% poverty rate in Manipur against the National average of 21.92%.

Add to this, the recent outbreaks of COVID-19 pandemic. If the global issue of climate change led to release of certain micro-organisms due to permafrost melting, Manipur can be a hotspot zone in the days to come. All these lead to an atmosphere of mental distress, anxiety and emotional outbreaks, personality disorders and spiritual degradation. The issue also extends to social arena as well.

Binalakshmi Nepram, the founder-director of the "Manipuri Women Gun Survivors Network" reported on a real-life incident of her childhood friend, Tarun who was recovering from "drug overdose" in a rehab centre. Nonetheless he was found dead at a tender age of 15. There are several incidents such as a 19 year old recovering 'drug-addict', the lone child of a widow who was shot dead by unidentified groups. Let us take a moment to pray for those Manipuri souls who have succumbed to drug-addiction and most importantly their family members.

Addicts resort to crime to pay for their drugs such as stealing vehicles, sale of household assets. And when money runs out, drug dealers gave a proposal of "Sell 10 and get one" as reported in The Economic Times. This way drug addicts get involved in drug business perpetuating the whole cycle which makes it even harder to eradicate.

Illicit drug business also promotes ethnic conflict as many smugglers have organized into 'ethnic' armed gangs who subsequently claimed exclusive territorial command of strategic areas. Widespread trust deficit, segregation of social order, decline in cultural values and moral degradation are some of the byproducts.

It is also believed that a portion of profits are invested in electoral politics. RBI reports that Money laundering activities is linked with drug trafficking and is facilitated by the parallel remittance systems known as "hawala" and "hundi". In Punjab, reports reveal that political parties use drug menace as a perennial election fodder.

On the same parlance, what can we deduce for Manipur which shares a distance of 398km with Myanmar? Free and fair elections are of paramount importance to ensure the infallibility of democracy. When the means of electoral politics are unethical, falsehood takes the place of truth when it results in unblemished common good.

To be continued....

* Khuman Hanglem wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at khumanhanglem(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on December 06 2021.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Imoinu @Yumnam Leikai :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Our Ailing Planet: My locality as a facet
  • Stop Oil Palm Plantation in Manipur
  • General election in hard times :: Poem
  • Being free from freedom
  • Roaring 40 in first list of Cong
  • Significance of Gaan-Ngai festival #2
  • COVID-19 Status 22 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Wake Up My People Wake up :: Poem
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • A tribute to Athokpam Indrakumar Singh
  • Stunted fingerling- Replacement of fish seed
  • Training Program at Dimapur
  • Gaan-Ngai @Kakhulong :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 21 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Classical Language Vs ST for Meetei
  • The Great Green Walls, conserving nature
  • Webinar: The Birds and Bees Talk
  • Covid Booster Campaign at Tamenglong
  • IVF Centre in Guwahati
  • Easing curbs as cases spiral
  • Third wave is on!
  • Ecotourism Complexes @ Ramrei :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 20 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • No excuse not to end acute pandemic stage
  • Palm-oil in Manipur: Bad to worse
  • For sons and daughters :: Poem
  • Effective methods for facial hair removal
  • Subdued dissent over Sunday as poll day
  • Embracing the party hoppers
  • Gaan-Ngai @Iboyaima Shanglen #2:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Cultural Activists of Manipur honoured
  • Male infertility: What are the options ?
  • Is celebrating New Year Day really worth it
  • Third wave: State on record breaking spree
  • Compulsion of power politics
  • Imoinu Thouniba @Singjamei :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 18 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • O Jonga! O Jonga :: Poem
  • Grey market for election tickets
  • Some common weeds of Manipur #2
  • Lilong Haoreibi College awarded 'B' grade
  • State used as transport route of drugs
  • Possible post poll scenario
  • Significance of Gaan-Ngai festival #1
  • COVID-19 Status 17 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Lunghar path in springshed conservation
  • Lament of love :: Poem
  • Career options in Lift Technology
  • Brief tale of one year COVID vaccination
  • Bickering among allies in coalition politics
  • Low vaccination coverage
  • NH-2 : Remember Khongnem Thana
  • COVID-19 Status 16 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • O Kolhen! O Kolhen :: Poem
  • Program on POCSO Act at Thoubal
  • The Killing Fields (2013-22) :: News Timeline
  • A spate of 'defections' in UP elections...
  • High performing individuals work alone
  • Onus on ECI to avert crisis situation
  • Keeping people informed is key
  • Gaan-Ngai @Iboyaima Shanglen #1:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 15 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • The church is & must remain apolitical
  • Tamenglong Battalion celebrated Army Day
  • How prosperous NE India became backward
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni @ Koubru #1:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 14 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Read all about Gaan Ngai
  • Justice, Peace and Change :: Poem
  • Mass Surya Namaskar at Tamenglong
  • Padmanabha Swamy Temple
  • Overcoming vaccine hesitancy
  • Nothing grand about 'Grand Old Party'
  • Lainingthou Sanamahi Complex #1:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 13 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • A Hymn for Goddess Emoinu
  • Some common weeds of Manipur #1
  • How to keep your hair healthy this winter
  • Third wave: Litmus test for NE states
  • High TPR, low vaccination
  • Maharaja Gambhir Singh
  • COVID-19 Status 12 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Rani Gaidinliu Open Air Lounge inaugurated
  • NAAC peer team visit for assessment
  • National Youth Day
  • Conservation Agriculture: intensified farming
  • Negligence galore as Covid cases rise
  • Back to the spike in three figures
  • How AFSPA undermines 'Act East' Policy
  • COVID-19 Status 11 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • P Achevei : Mega Mister North East 2021
  • Stop Violence related to Election
  • Civil / Project Engineer @ R-Square
  • Business Development @ R-Square
  • Customer Representative @ Property Geo
  • No matter what :: Poem
  • Stealthy extension of AFSPA
  • Confiscating 'suspected heroin'
  • 188 Death Anniv: Maharaj Gambhir:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 10 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Biotechnology Ignition Grant (BIG) 20th Call
  • Kalum Kai (House of worship) #2
  • Account Assistant @ Amber & Arthur, Imphal
  • Business Dev @ Amber & Arthur, Imphal
  • The 5G Race :: Samarjit Kambam
  • Manipur elections not for the faint-hearted
  • Guns & violence in run up to polls
  • Climate Change in Ukhrul in last 50 years
  • COVID-19 Status 09 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Are we able to break chain of transmission
  • 100 new Sainik School- opportunities for girl
  • Joyjeet Waikhom / Ksh Maradona: Mr India
  • Money flying in or out ?
  • Will partial lockdown help curb transmission
  • Voting during Covid pandemic
  • Food items @ Singjamei, Pishum :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 08 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Curfew : Measures to combat COVID
  • IMFP - Indian Made Foreign People
  • Happy 2022 to you !
  • Manipur Press Foundation Day :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 07 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Politician must practice, preach on COVID
  • Makeup routine during pandemic
  • Third wave threat no more a mirage
  • Queuing up for BJP
  • Thangal Lambi & Ima Keithel :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 06 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Before I sleep... II
  • Election Brawl :: Poem
  • Impact of Covid on Employer Branding
  • Chasing peace in Manipur
  • COVID-19 Status 05 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Kalum Kai (House of worship) #1
  • The art of New Year's resolution
  • Cong struggling to keep its house in order
  • Manipur's place in the eyes of Delhi
  • Makru bridge, Oinamlong Waterfall : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 04 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Depression : A New Time Bomb
  • School & Student Championship Quiz
  • Concern over child labour
  • ECI on sluggish vaccination rate in state
  • Vaccination rate in hill districts
  • Fusion of contemporary dance & theatre
  • COVID-19 Status 03 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • COVID-19 Crackdown on violators
  • AMAND, Pune released 2022 calendar
  • Rising poverty in Manipur
  • Sunset, the most memorable!
  • Election time season of plentiful promises
  • Interesting role of NPP, NPF
  • Pineapple @ Ngariyan Hills #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 02 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • kLlQtre :: Seireng
  • National Day for our feathered friend
  • Value of purposeful life
  • Homemade face packs for winter beauty
  • Dreadful start to New Year as cases spike
  • Manipur steps into Year 2022
  • Tarpon Katpa @ Loktak #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 01 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • OneHealth: towards pandemic preparedness?
  • Before I sleep...
  • Meitei ST demand & the opposition
  • Bye Bye 2021 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 31 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2021 #6: Gallery
  • Manipur : National Futsal C'ship 2021
  • 'Unlocking Locks Under Lockdowns' released
  • Baby corn cultivation for livelihood
  • Extension of AFSPA to Nagaland
  • Hoping for a better New Year 2022
  • Appeal of AMCO to Chief Minister
  • NK Sanajaoba- Star in Dark Sky of Manipur
  • COVID-19 Status 30 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Danube Kangjam : Miss North East 2021
  • In search of Christmas party
  • Demise of Film Producer: Guruaribam John
  • Disturbed Area Act in Nagaland extended
  • Thyroid cancer- The Good, Bad & Ugly
  • Same old order to tackle most potent threat
  • Putting tighter restrictions in place
  • Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958
  • COVID-19 Status 29 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • January Calendar for Year 2022 : Tools
  • Carol on Christmas :: Poem
  • Formation of 13 Farmer Producer Orgns
  • Indian Army Inquiry Team visits site in Oting
  • Review home isolation rule or punish violator
  • Lining up for saffron party
  • Red Ribbon Manipur Idol, 2021 #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 28 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • curaNTbdi nYte AE :: Seireng
  • Marriageable at 25 not 18 or 21
  • IMA Manipur wins 7 awards at NATCON-2021
  • Impact of climate change in agriculture
  • Dual threat to state in election season
  • Another panel to study AFSPA
  • Indigenous under-utilized fruit crop Manipur
  • COVID-19 Status 27 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Can we deliver on #HealthForAll
  • Business Executive @ Property Geo, Imphal
  • 13th Seniors National Futsal C'ship
  • National Curling Championship
  • Centre benevolence crucial for development
  • Taking the elixir of life to all village
  • Omicron now in town
  • Job-Fair 2021 @ Imphal : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 26 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Remembering great grandmothers :: Poem
  • Grand finale Mega Miss North East 2021
  • Kodo - A miracle food millet crop in Manipur
  • Preparing HCWs for long battle against Covid
  • Bid to arm twist the media
  • Christmas Eve @ Imphal : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 25 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • My idea of justice- For the old aged folks
  • Amit Shah holds conclave with Naga leaders
  • Horses - some tidbits
  • The best skincare routine for teenagers
  • Christmas Eve @ Churachandpur : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 24 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • My Christmas
  • Mary : The Unwed Mother
  • O Come, let us adore Him
  • Violence in election: Will it sustain?
  • Hymn on autumn :: Poem
  • Crackdown on liquor sale in election
  • Another Christmas comes
  • Red Ribbon Manipur Idol, 2021 #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Secy raises CCpur ambush with Myanmar
  • Gossiping with flowers, bees & butterflies
  • Careers with Migrants
  • Climate literacy to tackle climate crisis
  • Violence in AC with 2 fmr education minister
  • Heirok AC: Shooting to kill : Abhorrent
  • Of AFSPA, Manipur and NE States
  • The Price of Justice!
  • Seminar on 'Bioeconomy from Bioresources'
  • Shija: 1st Pvt medical college in NE
  • Water saving techniques in hill agriculture #2
  • Plight of women in land of brave-hearts
  • Not a question of If but
  • Heisnam Savitri (Legendary actress) #2
  • Painting: Tribal Freedom Fighter #1: Gallery
  • New Barak Bridge @Jiri highway : Gallery
  • Heisnam Savitri (Legendary actress) #1
  • RK Meghen tribute @ Nupi Lal : Gallery
  • Protest: massacre of Naga Brethen: Gallery