Take the War on Drugs beyond Govt on the offensive
The Government is obviously on the offensive and rightly so. Destruction drive of poppy plantations at the hills of Manipur is now almost a daily staple with Imphal based newspapers religiously carrying reports of so and so hectares and acres of poppy plantations being razed to the ground, complete with the accompanying pictures. Toss in the number of village chiefs and the actual tillers of the soil being pulled up and certainly the War on Drugs campaign seems to be going in the right direction. However much more needs to be done and this need not be over emphasised. Has any step been taken up to study and find out where the harvested parts of the poppy plants were destined to travel ? Are the harvested plants meant to be smuggled out of Manipur, headed for the units where the extracts of the poppy plants will be used to make drugs or is it a question of taking the harvested parts of the plants to units which have been clandestinely set up within Manipur ? Reports of drug manufacturing units being busted in Manipur have already hit the pages of Imphal based newspapers in the not so distant past, but the question still remains on the presence of other such manufacturing units. This takes all back to the question, ‘who are the kingpins ?’ So far no answer to this poser has been forthcoming and common sense says that the tillers of the soil cannot be much more than just labourers, who have been asked to cultivate the poppy plants for a fee. What has the State Government learnt from the disclosure of some village chiefs who have already been picked up ? This question is important for remember in the Kuki dominated villages, it is the village chief who owns the land and obviously must be the contact point for those standing behind the poppy plantations. What are the other findings that have come after some drug manufacturing units were busted in the not so distant past ? Or is it a question of the Government running into a blind alley after busting the manufacturing units ? Large scale poppy plantations have obviously had a huge negative impact on the environment and if one goes by the ‘balding’ hill sides, then this could be cited as one of the primary reasons for the rivers and streams of Manipur going dry. This in turn should explain the acute water scarcity that is being felt at the moment.
Drug money. The transactions must be huge, very huge, starting from the process of cultivating the poppy plants, which will involve tilling the soil, harvesting the same when the time comes, the urea/fertilisers used to ensure a handsome harvest, the process of turning the raw products from the soil to drugs and then marketing them. All this cannot be done by a single individual and herein lies the importance of busting the nexus. The important question then is, what are the steps being taken up to go beyond the exercise of destroying huge hectares of poppy plantations ? As pointed out in earlier commentaries here, the Government will need to go beyond the exercise of destroying large swathes of poppy plantation. The drug menace deals a crippling blow everywhere, ranging from exposing the young children to the danger of drug addiction or drug dependency to diverting fertilisers meant for food crops and depriving the genuine farmers. This in turn would impact on the agricultural produce of the State for a year making the people more dependent on the rice being doled out by New Delhi. Let the War on Drugs campaign go to its logical conclusion and in the process it should pull up the bigwigs, the persons with the money and the influence to finance poppy plantations, take the produce and convert them into drugs and then ship the drugs for destinations all over the country and even beyond.