Day by day, the evidence is piling up as to whether the Kuki militants are involved in the drug business or not. Just a few days back, security forces arrested two cadres of non-SoO group Chin Kuki Liberation Army (CKLA) from Chaljang, Churachandpur district and seized several arms and ammunition besides 2.5 kg of opium and cash from their possession. Security forces also arrested a commander of the SoO group with drugs on October 15 in a routine operation at Phaitol village.
Ten soap cases containing brown sugar weighing around 124 grams in total were recovered from a Bolero near the community hall playground of Phaitol village. Upon verification, the driver was identified as Lamtinsei Singson (50) @ Seipu @ Ishael, son of Letkhosieh Singson of Chiengkwnpang, Churachandpur who revealed that he is the Commander in Chief of UTLA/KNO (Seipu group) presently in SoO camp of Chongkhujou in Henglep of Churachandpur district.
Need we say more? In July, a team of Senapati police seized 4.046 kg of opium near Khongnem Thana in Senapati district from one Mangkhokam Misao, a Kuki. He was arrested during frisking and checking along the NH-2 of a four-wheeler (Hyundai Verna) and four packets of suspected opium packed in transparent plastic polythene were found concealed under the seat of the car. It was indeed surprising that he had managed to procure opium and transport such a drug consignment in the midst of all the mayhem going on in present day Manipur.
Just before the commencement of the present ethnic strife, Churachandpur police arrested two persons namely Thangbiaklun Guite and Nangkhenmang Munluah both from Suangdoh village in Churachandpur district with 16 kg of opium packed in a gunny bag when they were travelling on a Kenbo bike without a registration number at Zaupi Camp which is located about 15 km from Singngat PS. These seizures throw some light on the complicity of both SoO and non-SoO groups in the drug trade besides some enterprising individuals also. But, the buck does not stop there and it goes much beyond the actors here.
This year alone, more than 40 kg of opium were seized from various persons while in the year 2022 nearly Rs 1,280 crore worth illicit drugs including 560 kg of opium were seized from various persons. Of course, the most convenient route for transporting drugs and opium seems to be Churachandpur and Moreh.
Even after the ethnic clashes broke out, drug couriers still find ways to smuggle in contraband drugs. Assam police arrested four people hailing from Manipur’s embattled Churachandpur and Kangpokpi districts in Cachar district while they were transporting drugs. The suspected drug peddlers travelled from Churachandpur in a Bolero car through Mizoram and entered Cachar from Dholai area.
Then again, Assam Rifles seized Myanmar-origin illegal liquor and one kg of contraband suspected to be Heroin No 4 at Aina, Churachandpur. Communal riots or not, the drug business and supply must go on uninterrupted. That seems to be the dictum. Who all is benefitting from this drug smuggling? Of course, the leaders of the drug cartel benefit while those at the bottom of the ladder go on killing each other in the name of some imagined political endgame?
The actors here in the state seem to be mostly facilitators and couriers. There had been allegations from the Kuki-Zo side that, some powerful people in the valley were also involved in the narcotics business. Let us say, the allegations are true. However, as we said before the actors on this side of the border both from hills and the valley could only be facilitators working for the actual cartel bosses.
One could deduce this possibility from the shifting of the main drug route from Manipur to Mizoram after the clashes. This could only be managed by those powerful cartel bosses whom we are referring to as movers and shakers of ‘narco-terrorism’. Now that, security had been tightened in Mizoram following the announcement of state assembly elections, the route may again move back to Manipur.