The other day, a team of Senapati police seized 4.046 kg of opium near Khongnem Thana in Senapati district from one Mangkhokam Misao, a Kuki. The 29-year-old opium smuggler or carrier is from Phaipijang village, Dimapur Sadar, Nagaland. He was arrested during frisking and checking along the NH-2 of a four-wheeler (Hyundai Verna) bearing registration number NL07CA-2459 four packets of suspected opium packed in transparent polythene were found concealed under the seat of the car. It was indeed surprising that he had managed to procure opium and transport it with a dare to the War on Drugs in the midst of all the mayhem going on in present day Manipur.
We had thought that, the Manipur route for drug smuggling had become off-limits due to the present ethnic strife and that it had shifted to Mizoram. From where did he procure the opium? Churachandpur or Kangpokpi area? Churachandpur may be out of question as the route is almost closed unless he had help somewhere from someone powerful. A guess would be Kangpokpi district, where poppy cultivation and produce is plentiful.
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.
This year alone, more than 40 kg of opium were seized from various persons while in 2022, nearly Rs 1,280 crore worth illicit drugs, including 560 kg of opium, were seized from various persons. The most convenient route for transporting drugs and opium seems to be Churachandpur and Moreh.
Need we say more. Even the alleged drug kingpin Lhukhosei Zou belongs to the ‘Kuki-Zo’ community.
Heroin No 4 powder worth Rs 27 crore and 28 kilogram of amphetamine tablets, alongside a large amount of cash and arms were seized on June 20, 2018 from the official quarter of Lhukhosei Zou at Lamphelpat.
Zou had earlier joined the ruling BJP after leaving the Congress and was elected as the chairman of the Autonomous District Council of Chandel district.
One remembers Chief Minister N Biren Singh chastising a few communities inhabiting the state for active engagement in drug smuggling in the course of an assembly debate on ‘War on Drugs’.
Although the chief minister did not specifically mention the said communities, everyone could guess it then in the light of daily newspaper reports on seizure of drugs and poppy cultivation. Majority of those caught red-handed with drug consignments are from the said communities chastised by N Biren. Again, poppy cultivation has been detected mostly in Kangpokpi and Saikul constituencies besides Churachandpur district.
The interrogation report of the tribal chiefs reveal that certain SoO groups are involved in the practice. As many of the SoO groups are more or less involved with the leading politicians of the state, the government was wary of the response from the Kuki MLAs then. As it happened, almost all the 10 MLAs from the ‘Kuki-Zo’ group were either of BJP or supporters of the government.
Even then, Chief Minister Biren Singh carried on a relentless campaign against poppy cultivation and drug smuggling, forest encroachment and illegal migrants from Myanmar. The state government also chose to withdraw from the Suspension of operations with Kuki groups. And now after a lull of nearly three months, the drug route in Manipur is open once again and business as usual.