Law enforcing agencies & drug business
The report that contraband drugs worth over Rs 7 crore had been seized from a police personnel throws up a number of questions and tends to substantiate the general suspicion of involvement of some law enforcing agencies in drug cartels operating in the State. This was not the first case of arrest of security personnel in connection with drug smuggling cases. There was the infamous Pallel drug seizure case which involved the then Defence PRO. On October 3, 2013, a huge consignment of pseudoephedrine tablets (which included Respifed, Omkop, Hilcold, Polyfed and Actidin) worth around Rs 15 crore were seized from the Defence PRO and his gang. In between, there have been many cases of seizure of drugs from security personnel. All these cases prove beyond any doubt that some security personnel are actively involved in the lucrative business of smuggling drugs. In addition, there have been numerous reports of seizure of several types of drugs in different parts of India which had their origin in Manipur or passed through the State. If one collates all such reports, a very disturbing picture emerges; a grim picture of Manipur being a very convenient hotspot and/or route for illicit drug trafficking. International watch dogs on drugs trade have affirmed that Manipur is the opium producer for the infamous Golden Triangle. Given its proximity to the Golden Triangle, drug trafficking particularly heroin is no longer a local trade. In fact, it is a multi-national, cross-border trade as indicated by the seizure of drugs which originated from Manipur in different parts of the country. There are reports of involvement of (apart from local elements) drug mafias from foreign countries such as China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal. They are said to not only have contacts in many remote villages where poppy cultivation are being taken up on a massive scale, but are also investing huge amounts.
Official records say that the crude produce of poppy grown in Manipur is being smuggled out to Golden Triangle through the porous Indo-Myanmar border. It is just a matter of an hour or two from the cultivation site to cross the border from where the yield/consignment could reach clandestine laboratories in Golden Triangle where heroin is manufactured with different brand names like Tiger and Cobra. No doubt, Government’s anti-drug units along with security force personnel and NGOs have been reaching out to people living in the hills of Manipur, particularly at areas close to the neighboring Myanmar to prevail upon them against nurturing poppy plantation. These attempts deserve appreciation but they are too little to yield any positive result. At the same time, a larger issue seems to be evading us, for example, are we in a position to provide alternatives to the labourers and cultivators alike, such as, making the lands permissible for cereal and vegetable plantation (infrastructure support and availability of seeds, etc). Successful fight against opium can be achieved, if the alternatives are provided first and bring the remote areas under the fold of development. In another word, tackling illicit drug trafficking demands a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach. At the same time, it is essential to add a new dimension to the Government’s War on Drugs where its agencies and officials are effectively kept at check from actively or passively engaging themselves in drug smuggling and/or aiding drug cartels. The cleansing must begin from within and only exemplary punishment can deter security personnel and Government officials from joining drug rackets. The illicit business of drugs is a multi-crore business and any attempt to check such a highly profitable enterprise demands concerted efforts of citizens, particularly civil society organizations and strong political will on the part of the Government. Arresting some drug transporters will never be able to give any substantial blow to the thriving drug cartels, until the kingpins are taken to task.