Drugs may sink Manipur

Sanasam Pratibimba

Illegal drug trafficking has increased tremendously during the last decade in the state, causing fears that all the youngsters may be lost to the evil of drugs-addiction. Intermittently the Assam Rifles and the state police seized huge quantities of drugs worth crores of rupees, especially at Khudengthabi Check post on the Imphal-Moreh highway. Seizures were made almost on a weekly basis. These seizures and the arrest of big international smugglers gave the evidence that a clandestine international drug racket is running in Manipur.

Time and again, the state police have destroyed illegal poppy cultivation in the hill districts. Sources said 10% of the geographical area of Churachandpur district is under illegal poppy cultivation. The chief minister, Shri N. Biren Singh has put the charge of fighting the drug situation to the Director General of police, Shri. L.M. Khaute. A few months ago, the police busted a factory manufacturing heroin in Thoubal district. It was hinted that there might be other similar factories operating in the other districts. With heroin being manufactured, its supply is more which may cause more addiction.

During the last decades, drugs had wrecked several families and still continue to do so. A large number of WY tablets were seized by the police in several incidents that took place. Sources said that these tablets are consumed by school going adolescents. Some drug peddlers have been arrested from nearby schools. There are many married men in the age-group 25-50 who started taking drugs as they became frustrated by their failure to earn a livelihood. Losing hope, they became addicts and soon die leaving behind their wives and children. Young widows taking to immoral profession have increased in numbers.

The chief minister, Shri N. Biren Singh has decided to frame a policy to fight the scourge of drugs that is destroying the present society of Manipur. There are a few drug-lords but a large number of peddlers doing business in Imphal west and East districts. Lilong of Thoubal district is notorious for its drug trade. Thousands have become confirmed addicts and this situation has increased the rate of crimes in the state.

Drug related crimes occur very often in the capital city of Imphal when the addicts run short of money to buy their drugs. Incidences of petty theft occur a lot on a daily basis. But drugs are a profitable business to many who are indifferent to the damage inflicted on the society. These drug-kingpins spend huge sum of money to let villagers cultivate poppy, Cannabis in the mountains bordering Myanmar.

Heroin is manufactured from poppy plants. The busting of a heroin- manufacturing factory at Thoubal district recently yielded a seizure of items worth Rs.100 crores, indicating that the business runs into crores. The easy supply of heroin, WY tablets and other drugs facilitated by the large number of peddlers and smugglers put the youngsters at great vulnerability. Any adolescent may fall victim anytime if he falls into bad company. Parents are very concerned of this danger and try every means to shy their children away from drugs. Thousands of youngsters has died due to drug consumption since the 1980’s. Almost every family had lost one of its members to drug addiction.

On October 1, in the midst of rising concerns over the menace of drugs, a two day International Conference was held on the theme: Combating Illicit Trafficking of Afghan Opiates and Drug Situation in the Northeast that concluded in Imphal, PM Narendra Modi said that drugs harm the national safety and security. While speaking at the inaugural function, Manipur Governor, Dr. Najma Heptullah expressed serious concern and called for stronger co-ordination among law enforcing agencies, as the prevalence of drug abuse is above the National average in Manipur.

Many high school students are also hooked to drugs and this has produced issues of HIV/AIDS and Hep. C. The conference mooted on whether the cultivation of opium and Cannabis may be curbed by providing alternative means of livelihood to the growers. Factors such as geographical proximity to the Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent, and long porous borders have caused the alarming drug situation in Manipur and the Northeast.

During the last two and half years, about 4,897 acres of poppy cultivation have been destroyed by the state government which is also cracking down on illegal drug production by busting factories and arresting key smugglers involved in the processing of drugs. During the tenure of the present chief minister, Shri N. Biren Singh, 478 Kgs. of heroin and WY tablets worth about Rs. 50 lacs have been seized.

The conference was attended by delegates from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Shri Lanka. For now, the N. Biren Singh BJP led Government is keen to fight the alarming drug situation in Manipur. But will it succeed as the drug situation has deteriorated immensely? In the past three years, N. Biren Singh government has contained general strikes (Bandh) and highway blockades, comparatively.

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