Show no leniency to poppy growers Biswajit bang on target
Forest and Environment Minister Thongam Biswajit was bang on target and he couldn’t have been more right than in observing that befitting penalty should be imposed on all poppy growers rather than giving any sort of priority while giving rehabilitation pac-kages. Unfortunate it is that the English edition of The Sangai Express missed out on the report, which would otherwise have gone to occupy prime space in the March 3 edition of this newspaper. Call it fatigue or plain ‘missing out on an extremely important’ piece of information from the Assembly, but the truth is the English edition of this newspaper missed that report and due apology is in line. The stand of the Thongju MLA is what is expected from all law makers of the State and falls perfectly in line with the War on Drugs campaign launched by the State Government. As the Minister himself took pains to point out, many steps have been taken up to provide alternatives to wean away farmers from actually cultivating poppy plants, and this has been going on for some time now. More than enough to wean away the land tillers from poppy plantations and the line, ‘source of livelihood’ now sounds hollow and is actually hollow. Stringent measures is the need of the hour and it is encouraging to note the Minister mincing no words in stating how all poppy growers should be treated. No kid gloves treatment allowed should be the one line statement that should go along with the War on Drugs drive, to make it more meaningful and more catchy. This will undoubtedly underline the point that the Government means business and while striking this strong stand, it is also equally important for the State Government to admit that the War on Drugs needs to go beyond picking up and arresting the poppy growers or tillers of the soil, who actually cultivate the poppy plants. There have already been reports of some poppy planters being taken into custody and the question is, what has happened after that ? Has the Government made any progress ? The arrest or hauling up of some poppy planters should go along with the arrest of some village chiefs and it is from this stage that the Government should work towards inching closer to the task of unmasking the men or people behind the whole operation of turning mountains into large swathes of poppy fields. This is where the importance of following up on the arrest and detention of some poppy planters and village chiefs lies. A point which The Sangai Express has been repeating whenever a commentary is passed on the War on Drugs campaign.
Obvious that the Government needs to do more. What is the follow up action ? Or should the people be satisfied or be led to believe that the War on Drugs is not much more than arresting some poppy growers and village chiefs ? What is the follow up action after four policemen were caught with a huge consignment of drugs at Kuraopokpi near Pallel on January 16 this year ? Is this an open and shut case or is there something more ? What was the final destination of the drugs ? To whom were the drugs meant to be handed over ? Who financed the whole exercise, such as buying it from the source and having them shipped across the Imphal-Moreh line ? How did the shipment manage to give the slip to the numerous other checkpoints along this route ? These are questions which The Sangai Express has been raising every now and then, but silence is the only answer so far. The Government will need to do more for the source is still as active as before and this is something which can easily be established by the regular seizure of drugs at different parts of the State. The Government will need to do more than the War on Drugs campaign and surely the beginning should be to crack open some of the cases which are already in their hands. Other than this, it would be so productive to spell out what inputs the State has received from the neighbouring States on the many cases of drugs originating from Manipur and being seized in other parts of the country. Give more teeth to the War on Drugs campaign.