Accusing fingers raised by PAPPM Understanding the nexus
Not very well known nor is it prominent, but the People’s Alliance for Peace and Progress, Manipur (PAPPM) seems to have arrived with a bang, pointing the finger of accusation to armed organisations under the Suspension of Operations pact with both the Centre and the State Government, of being behind the mass scale poppy plantations taken up in the hills. Other than this, PAPPM has also gone one step further accusing the top rung leaders of the groups under the SoO pact of being illegal migrants from Myanmar. PAPPM topped this off giving a detailed background of some of the top leaders of the groups under the SoO pact and rounded off their allegations with the call that the State Government as well as the Centre call off the SoO pact. It is not the case of The Sangai Express to say how true the allegations of PAPPM could be but it comes close to what this newspaper has been maintaining all this while. It is not the farmer, the man who tills the soil to plant the poppy that the focus of the Government should be. The chain should be established is the one line statement that The Sangai Express has been maintaining all this while and the War on Drugs campaign will need to go beyond destroying poppy plantations and get down to the business of studying and unearthing the elements behind such as who finances the poppy plantation. Who are the people who buy the harvested poppy plants or flowers or seeds? Who markets them and who are the elements who turn the extracts from the poppy plants to drugs ? These are all questions which have been raised here, but till date no satisfactory answer has been forthcoming. Let the Government go beyond merely destroying acres and acres of poppy plantations but get down to the business of unmasking the elements who finance the whole thing. How about the village chiefs ? This is where a thorough knowledge of the landholding system in the hill areas becomes crucial. Are the hill ranges owned in the name of the village chief or do they come under the individual who tills the soil ? This is where different approaches may be worked out say between areas that come under the Kuki inhabited areas or the areas that come under the Naga community. The Government must by now have worked out the money that changes hands from the stage of ploughing the hill sides to grow poppy plants, to harvesting them and then selling them to go to the bigger market. No one would believe that the farmer who physically toils on the hill slopes to cultivate poppy plants would be in the position to collect all the harvested plants, extract the needed stuff, smuggle them out and then sell them to the ultimate buyer. The nexus needs to be broken and for this the Government will need to show it means business and go beyond hauling up the petty drug dealers from the streets and by lanes of some of the more infamous areas in Manipur.
All these should underline the point that there is indeed a nexus that runs deep, a nexus that ranges from the grower of the poppy plant, to the transporter, the smuggler and ultimately to the buyer. Who are the people engaged in one or two or three of the processes that run through the nexus ? This is where the focus of the Government should be. Picking up one or two or three or four drug peddlers from the streets of Imphal and elsewhere will come nowhere near the avowed slogan of War on Drugs. For the moment, the PAPPM has raised an allegation, a serious one at that and while it remains to be seen how seriously the Government would have taken the allegations raised, it is noteworthy that such a serious charge has been raised. Whatever the case may be, it is undeniable that to give more substance to the War on Drugs campaign, the Government will need to go beyond destroying poppy plantations and try to unearth the nexus that runs deep. For starters the Government may try to answer why there has been no report of anyone being pulled up for poppy plantation. Or is it a case of the Government simply not knowing who actually tilled the soil and cultivated the poppy plants ? Answers to this would be highly welcome.