Three persons, including a Manipur Police personnel were arrested and 807.18 grams of heroin drug in 65 soap cases worth Rs 5.65 crore in the international market seized from their possession in Guwahati on April 5 by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI). Earlier on April 3, Tengnoupal Police arrested two individuals including a Police Constable along with 92 soap cases of Brown Sugar worth around Rs 7.6 crore in the international market. Like we said before, it is only the tip of the iceberg of what passes through the state on a routine basis.
What we must also understand is that not all who are caught red-handed with drugs are the real owners of the seized drugs, but mostly couriers or mules in the modern parlance. Almost everywhere, the drug lords use couriers or mules to smuggle the consignment and these couriers or mules could be anyone. It can be policemen or drug addicts or sex workers or even powerful politicians or even those who are charged with monitoring or checking the drug trade.
In November last year, police arrested three individuals including a Police Constable along with 100 packets of Brown Sugar weighing around 1.254 kg worth Rs 2.5 crore in the international market. It had happened in the past also. Groups of regular policemen or police commandos and even some army officers were caught with huge quantities of drugs and cases under the NDPS Act are still going on.
In his first term, Chief Minister N Biren Singh declared a War on Drugs. But the campaign was marred by the infamous Lhukhosei Zou case. Lhukhosei Zou was a political big-wig who was arrested with quite a huge haul of drugs and there was a big tamasha of charges and counter-charges flying around within the establishment itself. Somehow, he got himself acquitted by the court while a few of his minions were convicted.
Lately, the Supreme Court had questioned the wisdom of not going for appeal by the Manipur government against the acquittal. In his second term as the chief minister, N Biren formed an Anti-Narcotics Task Force (ANTF) just days after he was sworn in for the second time. Days after, the task force arrested two alleged drug dealers identified as Mohammed Mujibur Rahman and Mohammed Sher Khan and recovered drugs worth Rs 1.9 crore in the local market and Rs 9 crore in the international market. The seized items include 67,900 SP capsules, 350 WY tablets, 115 N10 tablets, 135 g of heroin powder and eight bottles of cough syrup. Talking tough, CM Biren Singh warned drug smugglers and dealers to either surrender or face consequences.
Decades ago, Manipur was just a transit point in drug smuggling originating from the infamous Golden Triangle, as it shares a 400 km long border with Myanmar. The Golden Triangle is an area where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong rivers. The Golden Triangle is commonly used more broadly to refer to an area of approximately 950,000 square kilometres that overlaps the mountains of the three adjacent countries. Three decades ago, this region produced more than 70 percent of all opium sold worldwide, most of it refined into heroin. Well, that is the basic background of the overall drug scenario.
The widespread poppy plantations and the home-grown drug manufacturing units in Manipur did not develop overnight. There must certainly be patrons or powerful people behind the wide-spread poppy plantation just as there would be for the heavy traffic of drugs in recent times. Merely rewarding policemen for seizure of drugs and couriers is not enough, and after all it is their job.
The main focus should be on investigation part of the drugs which found its way into the hands of the law-enforcing agencies and in finding out who are the powerful patrons or drug-lords behind this lucrative business. Just as the Centre has Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB), the state has Narcotics and Affairs of Border (NAB) under the Police Department and now there is the task force. The need of the hour is post NAB and the task force with dedicated and committed police officers with clean records and if possible officers who have a personal axe to grind against drugs.