TODAY -

Poppy cultivation and emergence of drug cartels
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: January 04 2018 -



If militancy forms one side of the coin called Manipur, drug abuse and unemployment constitute the other side of the coin.

Drug abuse and unemployment are inter-connected somewhere and these are two socio-economic phenomena which go hand in hand.

Unemployment or idleness often push a large number of people, particularly youth, to the jaws of drug abuse which in turn sprawls multiple socio-economic and health issues as is witnessed in the State since many decades back.

Proximity to the infamous Golden Triangle is often cited as one major factor for proliferation of different forms of banned drugs into the society.

Seizure of different forms of drugs is one regular feature of the daily newspapers published at Imphal, the latest being the seizure of heroin worth Rs 42 lakh from an individual by Imphal East District Police Narcotic Cell.

Amidst the reports of seizure of huge consignment of drugs, there have been reports about cultivation of poppy at different corners of the State, particularly remote hill areas.

Out of the odd 29 States of the country, Manipur, Mizoram and Assam are at the top of the list along with Punjab when it comes to misuse of drugs.

This is no achievement to be proud of.

Rather, it demands a thorough soul searching on the part of the State and the citizens alike.

Again, the Northeastern States, particularly Manipur are already reeling under militancy and the scourges of the infamous Armed Forces Special Powers Act, not to mention about ethnic conflicts.

The menace of drug is often all pervasive and disastrous.

Apart from draining the State’s economy, it can corrupt an entire generation and destroy the very soul and spirit of a nation.

If the seizure of huge consignment of drugs in the past three/four years was any indication, we fear, some well connected and influential drug cartels are thriving in the State.

Yes there have been reports of extensive of cultivation of poppy in the hill areas of Manipur.

There were also reports about Government agencies, security forces, NGOs and civil society organisations destroying poppy plantations from time to time.

Yet, international watch dogs on drugs trade have affirmed that Manipur is the opium producer for the infamous Golden Triangle.

Some of the important factors cited include fertile soil, vast economic disparity and availability of cheap labor in the remote hilly areas of Manipur.

Official records say that the crude produce of poppy grown in Manipur is being smuggled out to Golden Triangle through the porous Indo-Myanmar border.

It is just a matter of an hour or two from the cultivation site to cross the border from where the yield/consignment could reach clandestine laboratories in Golden Triangle where heroin is manufactured with different brand names like Tiger and Cobra.

Perhaps, one reason for the failure to end opium plantation in Manipur could be on account of the involvement of top-notch personnel.

The State needs to do something effective urgently to wean away the local poppy cultivators to other crops, trades or professions.

Moreover, in the present situation, there are reports of involvement of (apart from local elements), drug mafias from foreign countries such as China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal.

If this is the case, we need to open a new front of war, this time against drugs.

The illicit business of drugs is a multi-crore business and any attempt to check such a highly profitable enterprise demands concerted efforts of citizens particularly civil society organizations and strong political will on the part of the Government.



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