Nothing thrilling about this ‘thriller’ High profile drug cases
It sounds like a thriller but there is nothing thrilling about this. In the last 20 years or so, Manipur has seen high profile drug seizure cases implicating equally high profile personalities and interesting to note too that the arrest and exposure of these obviously well connected, high heeled, well known personalities has not dampened the ‘spirit’ of the drug cartel. The ongoing offensives against poppy cultivation under the Government’s War on Drugs campaign in a pointer to this fact and Manipur is surely right up there on the drugs chart. Top this off with some drug manufacturing units being busted in some parts of the State in the recent past and it should be obvious to all that Manipur is no longer just the transit point with some ‘enterprising’ persons having mastered the technical know how of turning the raw material into high end drugs. This is what makes the reality all that more disturbing and as stated many times in this column, the Government will need to go beyond the exercise of razing large tracts of land under poppy cultivation to the ground and arresting some pushers and drug couriers. The fact is, the big fishes always seem to escape the net and this is where questions may be raised on the follow up action taken so far after the arrests of some village chiefs for poppy plantation. What is the follow up action after five policemen were arrested with a huge consignment of drugs near Pallel with over 1 kg of heroin and 80,000 WY tablets on January 16 ? Or is the investigation still underway or should the people be made to believe that the five policemen were more than couriers but were actually the ‘owners’ of the consignment ? If yes then where did they get the money from, which must have run into hundreds of lakhs of rupees, to procure the drugs in the first place ? If in three weeks time no further headway has been made, then one wonders what ‘further investigations’ really mean. A high profile case it was, for it involved men in uniform, people who are supposed to be at the forefront in fighting the drugs menace but remember there have been other high profile cases too earlier, all involving high heeled, well groomed, suited, booted folks.
A brief recap may just be in line here. To those who were already engaged in the profession of disseminating information to the people, it was with a sense of utter surprise and shock that the media houses, at least The Sangai Express, received the news of a former high profile Minister and a veteran political personality being arrested in a raid at a hotel in Guwahati on October 23, 2003 along with 1 kg of high grade heroin. This was in 2003 and in between there were many other cases of drugs originating from Manipur or after having crossed Manipur, being detected and seized in other parts of the country. Fast forward from 2003 to 2013 and one is instantly reminded of the arrest of an Army officer and five others along with a huge quantity of pseudoephedrine tablets at Pallel worth about Rs 15 crore on February 24, 2013. A little earlier, Manipur also witnessed another high profile drug seizure case when 7 unattended carton boxes with drugs were seized at Imphal airport on January 11, 2013 by a team of the Special Investigation Unit. Five were named in the case, including a high profile nephew of a prominent political leader of those days and who later also became an ‘important figure.’ This is not to speak about the arrest and seizure of huge quantity of drugs, which implicated a former Chairman of ADC Chandel and who was later acquitted by a lower Court in 2018 much to chagrin of the police officer who personally led the arrest. It is against these high profile cases that the offensive against the drug menace should be understood and this is where it is disconcerting to see that the Assam Rifles in its media hand out ‘conveniently forgets’ to disclose the identity of persons from whom the drugs have been seized on many occasions. Or has the seriousness of the War on Drugs blown over their consciousness ?