Substance Abuse & Drug Trade In Manipur

Seram Neken *

9th International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking at Iboyaima Shumang Leela Shanglen, Palace Compound, Imphal on 26th June 2014
9th International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking at Iboyaima Shumang Leela Shanglen, Palace Compound, Imphal on 26th June 2014 :: Pix - Deepak Oinam

Eating bread pasted with cherry shoe polish has reportedly become the latest intoxicant to a few delinquent abusers in some parts of Manipur.

Today is the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Every year since 1988, the United Nations has been spearheading the global observance on June 26.

In Manipur, where a considerable portion of the young brigade has lost its energy, strength and power to drugs and psychotropic substances, there is strong relevance to organize such events on a mass scale.

From Zarda Pan, Kheini and Cigarettes to alcohols such as such as Beers, Whisky, local brands like Sekmai, Andro, Phayeng; from cough syrups such as Phenshydyl, Corex, Epidex, Sericodine and Bonolex to pain killers like Proxyvon, Parvon Spas, Spasmo Proxyvon, Relipen, Prozep and tranquilizers such as Diazepam, Valium, Nitrogen 10 (N10); from psychoactive substances such as Morphine, Poldrom, Mandrake, Hypogen to the infamous Heroin Number 4, the menace of Substance Abuse has almost devoured the young physique and minds of Manipuris.

Nowadays, innovative Manipuri youths have switched on to easily available and cheap substances like Dendrite and Correction Fluids (Kores Eraz-ex). Interestingly, a few of them have begun to taste shoe polish as an intoxicant.

Drug abuse is the excessive, maladaptive or addictive use of drugs for non-medicinal purposes. It is also defined as an emotional and physical state characterized by a compulsion to take drugs on a constant basis in order to experience its mental effects. Drug abuse gives rise to dependence both physical and psychological. Dependence gives rise to mental, emotional, physical, social and economic instability. The effects of drug abuse on an individual form the basis for its cumulative effects on the society.

According to UN report, one million heroin addicts are registered in India, and unofficially the number could be five times more. Manipur has been contributing a huge portion towards the figure, with our young ones falling prey to drugs and substance abuse menace.

Youth in any society occupy a delicate and sensitive position for several reasons. Between 12 and 17 years of age, a person is regarded as a juvenile who is treated under special laws. Peer pressure, weak parental control, child abuse, imitation, emotional stress, truancy among students, the availability of the drugs and the ineffectiveness of the laws on drug trafficking are reasons for young people abusing substances.

Cigarettes and alcohol are beginners as they are cheap and easily available. Cigarettes contain nicotine and it affects the body physically and psychologically. Cigarettes are addictive and they cause lung disorders. Alcohol such as Beer, wine, brandy and local brews are contains chemicals and has potential for addiction. Alcohol has a toxic and sedative effect on the body and is available without prescription. It is a central nervous system depressant and its consumption can cause a number of marked changes in behaviour.

The varied religious or irreligious conventions and traditions are in one way or the other responsible drug and substance abuse in Manipur society. Ganja or Cannabis and home-made brew/alcohol have been used for religious purposes since time immemorial. Raw Opium or Kanni were widely used for medicinal and recreational purposes in Manipur as a convention. Kanni is known to be a medicine during child births to subside delivery pains in ancient times.

During 1970-1980, Psychoactive Substances or Drugs such as Morphine, Poldrom, Mandrake, Hypogen etc. were widely available and abused in Manipur. Heroin or No. 4 appeared in the early 80s. The quality of heroin was very pure and widely available at cheap rates. The sense of pleasure of its use spread like wild fire among the youths and adults of that generation. Heroin use was considered as fashionable, up-to-date and rich. Girls even admired those youths who used Heroin as popular rock stars.

From mid 1980’s, Injecting Drug Users started committing crimes to finance their drug requirements. Stealing from family, friends, neighbors and locality became regular features. Street crimes, gang fights and frequent cases of overdose and deaths were reported often. Even innocent children were kidnapped and killed to snatch their gold earrings. In late 80s and early 90s, the trend of drug abuse has changed with the intrusion of Pharmaceuticals such as Phenshydyl, Corex, Epidex, Sericodine, bonolex. Pain killers like Proxyvon, Parvon Spas, Spasmo Proxyvon (SP), Relipen (RP) and Prozep and tranquilizers such as Diazepam, Valium, Nitrogen 10 (N10) etc. appeared as most friendly abuse items to young people.

Nowadays, cheap and easily available substances such as Dendrite and correction fluids (Eraz-ex) are widely abused by young ones through smelling. School going teens are the most common in doing so. Latest abuse item reported at certain quarters is the shoe polish branded as Cherry.

Drug or substance abuse is an immoral behaviour of the youths. The degrading and all round system failure affecting every aspect of the society arising out of mis-governance etc. also aggravate this menace in Manipur. Young people take drugs or abuse substances for many reasons. May be they do so in order to cope with the frustration in life due to poverty, unemployment, broken family, unrest of mind and for self-amusement or for satisfying company of friends.

Many youths indulge in unwanted activities to gain acceptance and popularity among the peers. Due to their gregarious nature, young people seek the company of their own age groups. This leads to their exposure to various unwanted behaviour of their age group. The question is, since it would be impractical to expect them to dissociate from their herds, how they can be protected from being negatively influenced by the group behaviour. Here, the role of parents has to be discussed and focused.

One of the many ways youths may remain uninfluenced by unwanted behaviour may be by enhancing and strengthening their self-knowledge. Self-knowledge will lead to self-respect and self-confidence with the accompanying sense of direction in life. Culture as a guide to morality and rationality has a major role to play in this regard. That is, a generation of young people with identity crisis carried by their having caught in the conflict arising out of tradition and change, with confused notions of values easily become victims of undesirable impacts of the dominant mainstream cultural values.

People at large hate the drug users, scold and ostracise them from social activities. They try to isolate them from friends and relatives. They are seen as criminals. No one thinks about the real causes of his misbehaviour. Instead of creating a supportive and enabling environment to relieve him from misbehaviour, the society rejects, stigmatizes and discriminates him for his acts. The attitude of the society towards the adolescent delinquents is to be impartial and positive as much as possible. Drug/ substance abuse is a disease and it cannot be treated overnight. It is high time parents and elders take special care for their wards and siblings by devoting extra time and energy in order to defend them from the dangerous substance abuse culture.

Nexus between Electoral Politics & Drug Trafficking

Drugs trade is considered as the third largest business in the world, next to petroleum and arms trade. Today, no part of the world is free from the curse of drug trafficking and addiction. Millions of drug addicts, all over the world, are leading miserable lives, between life and death. Drug addiction has caused immense human distress and the illegal production and distribution of drugs have spawned crime and violence worldwide.

Illegal Drug Trafficking has tainted numerous powerful persons of the state. The trend of drugs business has also changed in type and quantum. Earlier, trafficking through Manipur was only one way – from the Golden Triangle to the rest of the world. Nowadays, drugs of various types pass to and fro on Manipur roads – from other Indian states to the Golden Triangle and vice-versa. Hence, Manipur becomes the unfortunate victim of such two-way drug trafficking and its youths have the tastes of various kinds of abusive materials. Abusing substances right from the costly Heroine powder to the cheapest substances in the form of tablets are easily available in Manipur.

As the most profitable business of the powerful people, drugs trade naturally involves people in electoral politics, as they need huge money for elections. Election and drugs trafficking are highly inter-connected concepts in the present trend of electoral politics. Whenever money continues to play a big role in elections, smuggling of all types will remain in the society. Politics-drugs nexus can hardly be impaired, as illegal drug business involves power.

Moreover, some anti-social people earn huge profit from drug smuggling and even spend their hard earned money in politics so as to pave the way for clearing obstacles in their business.

It is not amazing that Manipur Government was unable to trace the owner of a huge drug consignment seized from Imphal Airport on 11 January 2013. That the consignment was seized, but the owner remained unidentified is still a mystery. It depicts the prevailing nature of trafficking in the state.

In fact, budding of beautiful and costly buildings in many parts of the state, plying of innumerable number of luxurious four-wheelers on the streets, lavish lifestyles of a few wealthy people etc. are the visible symptoms of an ailing society. A bird’s eye-view reveals that a number of expensive residential buildings and vehicles belongs to people whose rightful incomes are disproportionate to their properties. A large portion of these disproportionate properties are obviously related to illegal drugs trafficking.

* Seram Neken wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao

This article was posted on June 27, 2014.

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