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Tis time to show political will to crush widespread poppy cultivation in Manipur

IFP Editorial: Manipur CM seems to forget that the War on Drugs 2.0 is still going on and he declared in the social media to wage a fresh war.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 30 Dec 2022, 6:40 am

(PHOTO: IFP)
(PHOTO: IFP)

We still remember the pledges given by various tribe organisations to N Biren Singh in his second stint as chief minister and much touted War on Drugs 2.0 campaign.

First, it was the Tangkhuls who announced their full-fledged support for the renewed campaign. Apex bodies of the Tangkhul community of Ukhrul district including Tangkhul Wongnao Long (TWL), Tangkhul Shanao Long (TSL), Tangkhul Katamnao Long (TKL), Tangkhul Chief Association (TCA), and church leaders called on the chief minister at his secretariat in Imphal and gave their commitment and affirmation to participate in the CM’s declaration of war on drugs.

The Poumai community of Senapati district was the next in line.

Then, the Joint Tribe Council (JTC) & Joint Tribe Students’ Association (JTSA) on behalf of the four cognate tribes of Inpui, Liangmai, Rongmei and Zeme based in Tamenglong district submitted a declaration to Chief Minister N Biren Singh, supporting the state government’s campaign by declaring Poumai inhabited areas as a ‘Drug and Poppy Free Zone’.

Then an avalanche of more and more tribes, including the Kuki-Chin-Mizo groups herded by respective MLAs and leaders started giving pledges to join the campaign.

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Suddenly, a drone survey of the hill areas revealed the presence of widespread poppy cultivation in the guise of other vegetable plantations and the chief minister was aghast. He even seems to forget that the War on Drugs 2.0 is still going on and he declared in the social media he will wage a fresh war.

In the last few days, widespread poppy cultivation has been detected mostly in Kangpokpi and Saikul constituencies besides Churachandpur district.

Well, this time, the Chief Minister N Biren Singh seems serious enough to take on those supporting the widespread poppy cultivation and facilitating drug smuggling from across the border. He has even revealed the interrogation report of the tribal chiefs that certain SoO groups are involved in the practice.

So, the stakes are high as many of the SoO groups are more or less involved with the leading politicians of the state. It requires political will and resolve if he is to confront these groups.

The main problem in hill areas is widespread poppy cultivation by doing away with traditional crops and agricultural practices.

Poppy cultivation fetches hard cash quickly with little effort while traditional agricultural activity requires hard work and a long process and yet the produce they get is little and not commensurate with the labour they had put in.

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Earlier, only organic farming was practised in the hills and there was no place for chemical fertilizers. Today, with the introduction of poppy cultivation there has been rampant use of chemical fertilizers which has led to degradation of soil fertility and pollution of water besides deforestation.

In the first edition of the anti-drug campaign, there was support from several quarters. But the campaign was marred by the infamous Lukhosei Zou case. Somehow, he got himself acquitted by the court while a few of his minions were convicted for possession of a huge quantity of drugs.

Only when the Supreme Court pulled up the state government for not appealing against the acquittal as demanded by some anti-drug groups, the government recently filed an appeal. Interestingly, the state did not take into confidence the various anti-drug groups working in the state besides the Meira Paibis.

Well, it was a paradoxical situation. While the state and its law enforcing agencies have reservations against the anti-drug groups for taking law into their hands, the groups also do not always trust the state agencies of doing their job honestly. Well, the recent initiative of the chief minister in convening a strategy meeting with NIA, NCB, NAB, Assam Rifles and Manipur police is indeed welcome.

EDITORIAL

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Tags:

drugspoppy cultivationn biren singhdrug freewar in drugs 2.0

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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