‘Progression’ from smuggling to manufacturing

The irony was simply too stark for anyone to miss it. Whereas Chief Minister N Biren was appreciating Kangpokpi District Police for hauling up sizeable quantities of drug consignments during the past couple of months with a cash incentive of Rs 10 lakh, Thoubal District Police busted a clandestine drug manufacturing unit and seized a whopping 222.85 Kgs of brown sugar while their Bishnupur colleagues apprehended three women along with 2.238 Kgs of heroin. It was not the first such clandestine drug manufacturing unit which had been busted in the State.  Earlier, there were reports of law enforcing agencies busting similar illegal drug manufacturing units. But none of the drug lords or kingpins who set up and were running these factories was arrested. Thoubal Police did arrest a woman after busting the drug manufacturing unit set up at Moijing from where a whopping 222.85 Kgs of brown sugar was recovered. It does not look like the woman set up and ran the factory on her own. Surely, the woman was not acting alone even if she was involved in running the clandestine factory. Then, who and where are the big fishes who actually own such factories? The State and law enforcing agencies are answerable to this question. It appears that the State’s War on Drugs has a serious flaw somewhere for any of the drug lords or kingpins who are behind manufacturing and smuggling huge quantities of contraband drugs have been hardly booked till date.
When a similar brown sugar/heroin manufacturing unit was busted at Lilong Dam area on June 29, 2019, many concerned citizens raised a number of questions. Was the drug manufacturing factory busted on June 29, 2019 the only factory of its kind in the State? Are there more such factories manufacturing narcotic drugs clandestinely in the State?  How long had the Lilong Dam factory been running before it was busted? Who are the bosses of these illegal but lucrative drug enterprises? Over the years, people have found the answers to the first two questions. The answers say that the drug manufacturing unit busted at Lilong Dam three years back was not the only one of its kind and there are more such factories in the State. But the last question still remains unanswered. We hope the War on Drugs will be able to find an answer to this vexing question sooner rather than later.  As if smuggling is not enough, some enterprising smugglers have walked the extra mile of setting up drug manufacturing factories in the State. If the seizure of huge consignments of drugs over the years and the drug manufacturing units busted at different parts of the State are any indication, we fear, some well connected and influential drug cartels are thriving in the State. The matter is a very grave and disturbing one and it demands a very thorough and impartial investigation. The investigation must go down to the very bottom otherwise drug cartels may grow into most powerful groups in the society. With the narcotic drugs made readily available through clandestine networks in the State, more and more of our youth are becoming drug abusers and ultimately addicts. The situation is really grim. The State, citizens and civil society organisations must work collectively if Manipur must be saved from the jaws of drugs. Although there are numerous cases of seizure of huge consignments of drugs and arrest of couriers, there is hardly any report of arresting any kingpin or drug lord except in a couple of isolated cases. The war against drugs should not be restricted to arresting couriers, if the Government is determined to win it.