Poppy cultivation in Sadar Hills and its impact on the youths

Ceety Khongsai *

Indo-Myanmar Friendship Gate at Moreh, a border town between India and Myanmar in August 2012
Flowers of drug: Poppy plants in full bloom :: Pix - Hueiyen Lanpao

Materialism with all its vices has excruciatingly profaned the peaceful environment of Sadar Hills, a home of mosaic ethnic groups, since the past few years. 'Life at best is very brief laments the lyricist but life seem to be shorter and more painful for the youths of Sadar Hills. As against the natural law of sons burying their fathers, the sons scornfully superseded their fathers in bidding adieu to this earthly existence; and many fathers in the funeral services of their heir successor sons tearfully recounts the irreversible mistake of toeing with the idea of material possessiveness thereby cultivating the poppy plants.

The poppy plant which had once been much feared and regarded as the twin brother of Lucifer, the evil one, by the people and which also tremble the nerves and sinews of even the bravest hearts by simply hearing its name has now become the 'First Love' of many juvenile youths appearing as beautiful and charming as the legendary beauties like Lenchonghoi, Ahshijolneng, Khupting, etc. Falling in love with this material girl (Poppy) was thought to be a paradise, a heavenly bliss on earth.

In reality, however, falling in love with poppy was highly demanding that nothing on earth can quench her thirst of love unless one completely sacrifices all his wealth, health and one's own life. This poppy plant metamorphosed in the image of most fascinating lass bewitch the tender hearts of the teenage youths and mesmerize their minds by coiling them tightly with her loving (intoxicating) arms and finally consumed (killed) their bodies like the Draculas to be disposed off as useless excretions to the land of the dead.

The Greek philosopher Plato said: "Human beings are God's finest products" with special natural law to govern them; and the natural law prohibits self annihilation by mankind. Therefore, the act of opium addicts in taking their own lives contravenes the natural law of life. Moreover, it is a sin than sinning to be a poppy grower because the short time wealth accumulator has the corresponding power to shorten human lives.

The universal understanding of human values with the famous dictum 'Health is Wealth' is disdainfully interpreted in terms of 'Wealth is Health' by the Sadarites. The Christian faith of God as the super specialist in healing human diseases has now dwindle because the giant leap in medical sciences is believed to cure all ailments if one possesses enough money.

But awfully money cannot save the lives of their poppy juice addicted sons and, the pre-mature riches accumulated through the killer plants resulted in pre-mature deaths of many youths. "Educating my son to become an officer with sin-stained money was the greatest blunder in my life" laments a tribal Christian continuing, "God has taken my son prematurely as I could not teach him the path of righteousness". There's nothing which is more revealing and appealing for fellow Christian poppy growers than this unfortunate father who in repentant heart publicly apologizes his past mistake. Would you like to repeat the same err in your life?

Notwithstanding the dehumanising effects and its consequential effects on the lives of the youths, the thick jungles of Manipur and, Sadar Hills in particular, are enchantingly adorned with Poppy gardens. The law enforcement agencies' arms of the government are too short to reach the interior hills as bundles of Indian currency notes of thousand denominations in the form of gifts, presentations etc practically put the officers under house arrest.

Further, the surprise visits of the Assam Rifles at the poppy gardens can also be appropriately called as 'Goodwill Missions' rather than 'Crush Poppy Operations' because the Assam Rifles were and will always be the 'Friends of the hill people'? The much hyped GOI's Look East Policy and the SPF government's Imphal-Mandalay Bus Service are being differently viewed by the intellectual circles in Sadar Hills.

There's nothing pessimism in assuming that when the Look East India Policy and the Imphal-Mandalay Bus service got materialised, it will be a dream come true for the poppy growers of Manipur. Poppy has taken many lives so far and many more are still drafted for the phase-wise final departure.

On the other side, bearing the unbearable pangs of separation of their sons set aside, the hope of many mothers got dashed to the ground as their sons in whom they build the foundation of future society got entangled by the consuming fire of poppy flowers. Will there be anything which is more painful and shameful for parents than to be a coffin bearer of one's beloved opium addicted sons marching towards the cemetery?

It's a universal truth that death is inevitable. We cannot escape death. Because, man as the finest product of God, will find its self-perfection only when our mortal body reverted back to its former form of dust. This is what all religions stand for. Therefore, as ordained by the creator, one day or the other, the cruel hands of death will unfailingly snatch each and every one of us away from the loving company of our beloved family to be re-united with Him in eternity.

Nevertheless, the prevailing scenario of pre-mature deaths occurring on a daily basis in Sadar Hills and its adjoining areas has a different story. Life could have been totally different in Sadar Hills had the people opted for other organically harmless cash crops than the life consuming poppy plants as a means of earning their livelihood.

It's naturally true that every human being would not like a wretched life but aspires for a comfortable and honourable life. There's nothing inconsistent with Biblical teachings about material wealth; what matters is about the means by which a person amassed his wealth and, poppy as a means of earning wealth negates the natural law of life.

The temptation of imitating corruption scandals filled lucrative lifestyles of morally amoral, ethically unethical and spiritually unspiritual officers, dummy church leaders and pseudo social workers inclusive of student leaders has completely confounded the conscientious minds of educationally as well as materially poor parents in misleading their children towards the path of self-destruction and lost of eternal life.

In a patriarchal society where one's genealogical lineage being traced from the male heirs many of them are today without a male heir due to pre-mature death of their opium addicted sons. Poppy plants help them in building beautiful houses but shattered many sweet homes into a place of mourning and wailing.

Poppy cultivation has painfully derailed the religious lives of many Christians inasmuch as the sanctity and holiness of the Sabbath, a day consecrated for God's worship, has now been wilfully sacrilege by ttle poppy growers. Moreover, the leniency of church towards the poppy growers by accepting their tithes and retaining them as bonafide communicant members of the church has indirectly encouraged the Christian wolves in legitimizing their sinful deeds.

It may be noted that the church neither justifies nor condemns its members because authority of judgement solely rests in the hands of Jesus Christ. The matter is being left with the relationship between God and man himself. Conversely, there are some people who voluntarily disassociate themselves from the congregations of Christian fellowships on ethical ground.

In fact, the compassionate call of God through the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ for the 'home coming' of poppy planters (sinners) into the true Christian family is likened as the pouring of diamond stones before the blind man as the magical powers of poppy in inflating the Bank Accounts of its growers annually has absolutely envenom the hearts and souls of its planters. The Christian teachings of self-contentment with few material possessions become unimpressive to material greedy hearts.

The sanctum sanctorum of the church got sacrilege by the sin-stained tithes of the poppy growers and today many churches are in doldrums bearing the curse of those unholy tithes. As result, schism creeps in within the church and emergence of new denominations afloat the society. The beauty and sweetness of the holy words of God spoken from the mouths of the saints and pastors could not invigorate religious lives of its members as many of the present day church workers lack commitment and devotion to their calling.

We all know that majority of our youths reel under the threats of heroine No.4 and other sister heroines. True to her name the No.4 heroine had conquered the lives of many young heroes; and ninety per cent of those conquered belong to the age group of 15-45 years. The dreaded No.4 heroine which formerly came from China's Golden Triangle via South East Asian countries has now established her Silver Triangle (cultivation factory) in Sadar Hills.

Unless the opium related premature deaths of our youths in Manipur is the state government's discreet policy of control in its fight against insurgency problem in the state, it's high time for the Congress led SPF's Team Ibobi to come up with a white paper to save the lives of our most valued sons and daughters.

* Ceety Khongsai wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on March 15, 2013

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