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Manipur moves for a policy to start ‘war against drugs’

By:Malem Ningthouja

Easterntimes, October 16, 2020,Imphal: Over the last few years “war against drugs” is a popular phrase, almost like a  slogan in Manipur. What seemed more of a media hype, is gradually now moving towards the drafting of a drug policy for the state. People are not yet sure of the effectiveness of such a policy in curbing the drug menace in the state, but “drugs” have become a serious concern as it has almost taken a pandemic form and is spreading like wildfire across this border state.

For long, Manipur has become a market and transit route for illegal drugs, largely encouraged by geographical factors, economic desperation, administrative lapses, and lack of a collective effort to wipe out illicit business in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

The drugs from Myanmar smuggled to other states of India via Manipur are: Amphetamine, Brown Sugar, Crystal Methamphetamine (‘ice’, ice drug), Heroin powder, Methaqualone, and World is Yours (Methamphetamine).

Drugs from other states of India smuggled to Myanmar via Manipur are: Codeine, Ephedrine, Nitrosun-10 tablets, Pseudoephedrine, Spasmo-proxyvon capsules, etc. Transportation of drugs takes place either on land or air route.

Today, Manipur is a hub of drug trade. According to police reports, most sensitive districts are: Heroin (Thoubal); Morphine (Bishnupur, Churachandpur, Kangpokpi, Senapati, and Thoubal); Opium (Bishnupur, Chandel, Churachandpur, Kamjong, Kangpokpi, Senapati, Tengnoupal, Thoubal, and Ukhrul); Cannabis (Senapati, Thoubal, and Ukhrul).

The record does not mention pharmaceutical drugs that are widely available either in the black market or in pharmacies.

Apart from chemical drugs, local production of cannabis or ganja and poppy cannot be ignored.

Police in 2019, identified several poppy plantation areas: fifteen in Kangpokpi, 4 in Ukhrul, 10 in Churachandpur, 12 in Tengnoupal, 10 in Senapati, 6 in Kamjong, and 7 in Chandel, which altogether account for 64 plantation areas in Manipur. It is quite likely that many areas that are inaccessible by the police, are not identified.

How could all these happen when the entire state is heavily militarised with well-knitted strategic and tactical check posts located everywhere?

These killer drugs that are ruining Manipuri society and also looting the state’s economy, provide for employment to a vast chunk of the daily-wage labourers in the state — those either employed or are sharecroppers in the drug production or plantation units and they remain bonded to the kingpins who run these businesses due to economic compulsions.

The drug pandemic has irreparable disastrous impacts on the society as a whole. First, it has taken a significant toll on lakhs of lives. Second, it has caused health breakdown and economic impoverishment of several lakhs. Third, drug-related social crimes are widespread. Fourth, it has severe ecological destructions as vast areas of forests in the border areas are destroyed for poppy plantation.

Hence, it is high time that the government of India takes serious note of the situation to save lives, health and economy of Manipur.

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