Give more teeth to War on Drugs campaign Unmask the big fishes

War on drugs. And it goes without saying that the Government will need to do more than just coin some catchy slogans to make the fight against drug abuse and trafficking more effective. The first step obviously is to win over the people, the numerous civil society organisations which are known to be very vocal in their stand and the mass rally of March 7 is a standing testimony of the position of the people. It is the stand of the people which the Government should capitalise upon to make the fight against drug abuse and drug smuggling more effective. It is also important for everyone, particularly the Government to publicly acknowledge that the large scale drug smuggling will not be possible without the participation of those who are in positions of power and influence. This is where the Government and the law enforcing agencies will need to look beyond the petty drug runner and look at the bigger picture. Pulling up petty pushers is fine, but it would be wrong to understand the fight against drugs only by looking at the number of pushers who are pulled up or arrested. It is not the petty drug dealers who are often held while trying to smuggle drugs such as heroin, WY tablets etc along the Imphal-Moreh highway that the Government should be seriously concerned about, but with the well heeled, suited, booted people who are behind the large scale smuggling of drugs. It is only those in positions of power and influence who can set up drug manufacturing units and the Government will now have to contend with not only the pushers and the small time drug traders but look at the vast network which must be there in place for such drug manufacturing units to come up.
Acknowledge that there is a vast network in place, those who can get the raw material, ship them to the manufacturing units, manufacture the drugs and yes smuggle them out to the market. While drug pushers are being rounded up regularly, it is unfortunate that there is no report of any big fishes being caught. A good pointer that all the dots do not connect. It is the seeming failure to pull up the big fishes which must worry the Government and all concerned. Chief Minister N Biren appears to be optimistic that the fight against drugs has gained traction and will ultimately be successful and while the optimism is noteworthy, more teeth needs to be given to the campaign against drugs. As stated many times in this column, the Government will need to do more than destroy poppy cultivations in the hill districts and try to find out those who have financed the poppy cultivation on such a large scale in the hill districts. Study the land ownership pattern in the hills is a point which has been raised on more than one occasion here. The fight against illegal poppy plantation should be more than destroying vast tracts of the poppy plants and should ideally be followed up by identifying those who are behind the large scale poppy plantations. In all likelihood the actually tiller of the soil, the one responsible for planting the poppy plants may not be the owner of the plantations and there is the need to follow the destruction of the poppy plantations with arrest and unmasking the system behind the large scale plantations. This will give more teeth to the war on drugs campaign of the State Government.