War on Drugs & rise of drug rackets

    12-Dec-2022
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The unfolding situation demands a thorough and serious review of the State Government’s War on Drugs. Apart from seizure of drugs of different types in varying quantities within the State which has almost become a daily affair, there are now regular reports of seizure of drugs outside the State which are smuggled through/from Manipur. Has Manipur become a safe haven for drug rackets? Is Manipur heading in the direction of the notorious Golden Triangle? Is the State fighting a losing battle against drugs? These are some pertinent questions thrown up by the unfolding situation.  It is really sad to note that the lucrative business of drugs is no longer an exclusive domain of men. Many women are now directly or indirectly involved in the unlawful business. There have been many reports of arrest of women along with contraband drugs. For some, smuggling drugs has become a family business as testified by the arrest of a man and his wife from Kangpokpi along with 2 Kgs of heroin at Jalpaiguri, West Bengal on December 9. West Bengal Police who arrested the couple said that they are kingpins of an inter-State drug racket operating from Manipur. On November 21 too, Assam Police seized contraband drugs worth Rs 50 crore in Cachar and it was reported that the drugs were brought from Churachandpur district of Manipur. Earlier in August this year, a man was arrested in Delhi along with 4 Kgs of heroin worth Rs 20 crore in international market. The drug consignment was smuggled to Delhi from Myanmar through Manipur and the arrested man was no petty or ordinary drug peddler but a member of an international drug cartel which is active in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Manipur and Assam. If one collates and analyses these reports, a very disturbing picture of the rise of powerful drug cartels emerges. By simply taking note of the reports of seizure drugs in different parts of the country which either originated from Manipur or passed through the State, one can safely guess that not one but many inter-State and international drug rackets are thriving in the State.
Apart from supplying raw material (opium) to the Golden Triangle for manufacturing different narcotic drugs, Manipur is fast becoming a drug manufacturing centre, if the discovery and busting of drug manufacturing units as reported in media from time to time are any indication. Till some years back, Manipur only served as a transit route for smuggling drugs from the infamous Golden Triangle to mainland India and elsewhere. But today, poppy plantations on commercial scale and clandestine drug manufacturing units have become an ugly reality in the State. When the main raw material (opium/poppy) is cultivated across vast hill ranges within the State, emergence of factories which run on this raw material is only a natural corollary. Establishment of clandestine narcotic and psychotropic drug manufacturing units within the State is a matter of grave concern. The situation demands decisive action driven by the required dose of political will. If the war on drugs is gaining any ground and the communities are supporting the same war, the drug menace ought to come down but the ground reality tells a very different tale. It would be a far reaching tragedy for one and all if the Government is fighting a losing war. When drug rackets are really operating in Manipur, it is only a matter of time before drug mafias rise their ugly heads in the society. The situation has only grown from worse to worst. It is indeed a wake-up call for the State, citizens and civil society organisations. Failure to tackle the grim issue collectively and immediately would prove to be very costly.