As Manipur steps into 2023 Make it more than a slogan

Not exactly a year end round up, but it would help for Manipur to at least take a hard look at the days just gone by which made up 2022, learn from the errors and mistakes and resolve not to repeat the fiascos. In another 24 hours, Manipur like the rest of the world will step into 2023 bidding goodbye to 2022 and perhaps this is the time for everyone to seriously mull over why it was deemed necessary for the SP of Imphal West police to personally come out and spell out the dos and don’ts for all the revellers who will no doubt be making a beeline for Sekmai turen to bid goodbye to 2022 and ring in 2023. More than an indication that the people of Manipur just do not know how to celebrate and in the event they do the penchant to inconvenience others and pose a threat to the safety of all road users always, unfailingly comes to the fore. The past should tell its own undiluted story. A story that everyone must be well acquainted with. Yaoshang is still a few months away but the script has almost always been the same, with reports of road accidents hitting the front page of all the newspapers published from Imphal when the newspaper houses re-open after a five day break. Even as the world is getting ready to bid farewell to 2022 and open the door for 2023, drugs continue to cast its long shadow with law enforcers hard pressed to destroy and uproot poppy plantations from the hill sides. Latest reports coming in say that quite a number of village chiefs have been pulled up and this is a step forward. For too long newspapers in Manipur have been carrying reports of large swathes of poppy plantations being razed to the ground with no report of anyone being ever pulled up. This is a question which The Sangai Express had been raising in this column everytime a commentary is made on the War on Drugs campaign. One hopes the Government moves forward from pulling up the village chiefs to actually identifying and coming down heavily on those who persuaded the village chiefs to go in for poppy plantations. Perhaps this is the best lead one could get. From the village chief the chain of command may be established, such as who actually comes to buy the extracts or whatever it is from the poppy plants. Hard to believe that the farmer who tills the soil and nurture the poppy plants would be in a position to collect the extracts, store them, turn it into drugs and then ship them out for sale. The chain has to be established, or else the War on Drugs will remain just a slogan. In line with the exigency of the matter, it was heartening to see some student organisations chipping in with their bit and calling for stronger laws to check and deal with drug trafficking.
The nexus needs to be broken if the War on Drugs is to have any substantive meaning or else it will not move beyond the status of just a slogan. Till date no big fishes have been named and nailed. Those caught on the Moreh-Imphal highway or in some of the more infamous lanes and places of Imphal with drugs cannot be more than mere transporters and pushers who carry the drugs for a fee. Take it to destination B from A is the briefing that most of them must have been given. It is also tough to imagine that the petty pushers and transporters would actually know the identity of the financier, the person who uses his clout to get the drug from A to B. It will surely need the moneyed and influential folks to even entertain the idea of smuggling or transporting drugs running into lakhs and even crores of rupees. Something not any Tomba, Hongba and Chaoba can afford to indulge in. This is where one finds the missing link. As repeated many times in this column, what are the follow up stories after drug manufacturing units have been busted in some of the more infamous localities of Manipur ? Who financed and who provided the muscle power and the technical know how to set up the manufacturing units ? The people so far arrested can only be henchmen, engaged on a monthly salary to look after the functioning of the manufacturing unit. As Manipur steps into 2023, give more teeth to the War on Drugs and make it more than a slogan.