TODAY -

Cross border smuggling : lures and liabilities
- Imphal Times Editorial :: March 28 2018 -



Although no proper survey has been carried out till date, an estimated fifty thousand people in Manipur alone make a living out of smuggling goods from across the border, ninety percent of which are transacted through Moreh town bordering Myanmar.

The Indo-Myanmar trade agreement signed in April 1995 legalised trade for a restricted 25 items which include ginger, pulses, fresh vegetables, mustard beans, betelnuts and leaves, fruit, minor forest products, garlic, onion, spices, chillies, reed broom, tobacco, tomato, food items for local consumption, catechu, soyabean, resin, sesame, coriander seeds, roasted sunflower seeds.

While the trade in these items might seem huge by way of volume, the value of undeclared and smuggled items must be many times the legal ones.

The most significant indicator of the volume and value of smuggled goods which are primarily drugs, arms and ammunitions, precious stones and bullion especially gold can be gauged from the increasingly frequent interceptions and seizures of such smuggled items and their market value which often run into crores.

Reports of such seizures by the armed security forces have consistently been getting more frequent as well as the value of such contrabands seized on the rise.

It is anyone’s guess as to how much of these items would have made it through the border and into the state.

It is also a cause of grave concern as to what these contrabands, especially drugs and arms and ammunitions would do to the society.

As it is, the very fact that they are smuggled implies that such items are to be used for illegal purposed not sanctioned by society or law.

What is really worrying is that given the lucrative nature of such a trade and the necessity of forming a chain of security, influence and resources to silence and oil the palms of those who are entrusted to check the very trade, it is not a risk a common person would have the wherewithal to take.

There had been disturbing instances where power and influence have been blatantly abused to coerce, instigate and stymie the authorities working to prevent such smuggling activities.

Despite every indications and telltale signs of a number of very big and powerful cartels carrying out lucrative and sizeable smuggling rackets, there has not been any significant effort on the part of the government to pull a plug into such activities which will surely cause an adverse impact on the society.

There have been talks and assurances of modernizing the check posts along the way and to tighten up vigil along the border to reduce smuggling, yet things are evidently still to put into practice.

While it would be practically very difficult and almost impossible to barricade the entire length of the border with Myanmar in which one point of the infamous Golden Triangle lies, application of modern technological devices and systems such as UAVs, sensors and motion sensing cameras at strategic points will go a long way in disturbing and disabling the operations of these smugglers.

Exemplary punishments for those caught smuggling without undue delay will also send out a warning of the strict intent of the government to combat the menace.

It would be wise and pragmatic to take up concrete steps without further ado before greed and the lure of undeserved wealth gets the better of our society.



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