The other day, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh claimed in a press conference that the state has witnessed a massive success in the second edition of ‘War on Drugs’ launched by his government. While appreciating the sincere efforts of the chief minister in tackling the drug menace in the state, one has to be mindful of the question as to how far he is ready to take the campaign. To begin with, we can start by asking a question as to how do one measure the rate of success in such a campaign? As the campaign necessitates a multi-pronged strategy, several indicators of measuring success come to mind.
Well, the quantity of seizure of drugs and other psychotropic substances would certainly be one of the indicators, but there are other factors to be considered as well. For example, the sincerity and honesty of the police officials assigned with drug enforcement, the quality of prosecution and conviction in drug related cases are very important factors. One must keep in mind that, Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act in short NDPS is a special Act which facilitates speedy investigation and prosecution as well as conviction and the quality of work put in by investigators and prosecutors for bringing cases to a logical end is also one of the important determinants of measuring success in such a campaign.
Ever since the second edition of the campaign started on March 20 this year, several enforcement agencies including police and security forces have seized illegal drugs worth over Rs 182 crores in the international market and arrested as many as 140 ‘alleged’ drug traffickers so far while a total of 380 acres of poppy cultivation were destroyed within the two months period.
The state is preparing to dispose 719.25 kgs of contraband Ganja, 940 grams of Brown Sugar, 18.7555 kgs of Heroin Powder, 87 kgs of WY Tablets (Methamphetamine), and 20 kgs of Crystal Ice (Methamphetamine) with due permission from the court. In the past, there were cases of seized drugs missing from the evidence locker of the Police Malkhana and in some cases turning into flour which has led to such court mandated disposal of seized drugs.
Not only this, complicity of police personnel in some cases of drug smuggling has been reported in the past and in recent times also. In fact, it is not only Manipur police but most police forces are afflicted with this disease of police corruption and complicity in drug smuggling and peddling as well. Chief Minister N Biren Singh needs to have a plan for curbing police corruption if he wants to really succeed in his campaign. And again, the quantity of drugs seized is not an important determinant for success as analysts across the world used to say it is only the tip of the iceberg.
Chief Minister Biren said, some of the arrested traffickers are serving a jail term of 14-15 years. But it is also a fact that the rate of conviction in NDPS related cases is still very low either due to lack of sincerity or expertise in investigation or prosecution and most of the persons lodged in jails in drug related cases are in fact undertrial prisoners or detainees.
As regards poppy plantation in the hills of Manipur, it is not the case of some ‘enterprising’ hill chieftain or businessmen or a venture which came out of the blue. Drug lords with powerful connections here and across the border would certainly be involved in this, considering the spread of poppy cultivation. There is always the matter of a risky investment and a reliable marketing network before embarking on such a venture. In short, one needs to be an old hand in the trade. So, the most important job should rather be the search for the investor and his agents working in the field. Well, whittling away in the poppy fields with bamboo strips is fine. But, time is precious and we should rather be chasing the money trail.
First published:19 May 2022, 7:00 pm
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