After a variety of drugs, poppy seeds is newest item being smuggled from Myanmar

By Sujit Chakraborty

Aizawl/Imphal, Oct 13 (IANS): After the rampant smuggling of drugs and guns from Myanmar, the Assam Rifles troopers have seized a huge quantity of poppy seeds in Mizoram after the contraband was illegally traded from across the border, officials said on Wednesday.

Illegal poppy cultivation is going on in a few northeastern states to produce narcotic opium drugs.

Assam Rifles sources told IANS that the para-military personnel accompanied by customs officials and acting on a tip off seized 140 bags of poppy seeds valued at around Rs 19 lakh from Tlangsam-Tyao road in Champhai district along the India-Myanmar border.

An official statement said that the smuggling of poppy seeds is a major cause of concern for Mizoram, especially along the India-Myanmar border.

In India, opium poppy cultivation is prohibited under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, except under a license issued by the Central Bureau of Narcotics under NDPS Rules, 1985.

Smuggling of poppy seeds from neighbouring Myanmar is a new item in the rampant illegal trade in various drugs including heroin, opium, poppy straw, tablets and capsules (including Yaba or methamphetamine), ganja (marijuana), morphine, bottles of cough syrup.

Manipur Chief Minister N.Biren Singh recently announced a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh for Peh (Paoyi) village in Ukhrul district in appreciation of the endeavour by the villagers to destroy poppy plantations. This was also reported from Arunachal Pradesh and other northeastern states.

The states of Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam continue to reel under the drug menace with cultivation of poppy and ganja (marijuana) destroying the forests.

With poppy and ganja gradually emerging as a major cash crop a section of people are illegally farming these for easy money. Ganja is also being clandestinely transported to other states in India.

Forest officials said that according to the India State of Forest Report (ISFR), most northeastern states lost a major chunk of forest cover during the past two decades as illegal cultivation of various narcotic drugs is increasing.

The Assam, Manipur and Tripura governments, which had launched a crusade against narcotics to make the states drugs-free, are also keen to wipe out the supply of drugs to other parts of India through the northeastern region.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the drugs smuggled into India originated from Pakistan and from across the borders along the northeastern states specially from Myanmar.

To make the people aware about the drug menace, seized drugs worth Rs 170 crore were burnt publicly in Karbi Anglong, Golaghat, Hojai and Nagaon districts of Assam recently.

The seized narcotics included methamphetamine tablets and foreign origin cigarettes.

The methamphetamine tablets, also commonly known as 'Yaba' or 'Party tablets' or 'WY' (World is Yours), is a synthetic drug, and is misused as a high-dosage drug among the people specially the youth in Bangladesh and neighbouring countries, besides India.

Officials said that the drugs specially the highly addictive methamphetamine contain a mix of methamphetamine and caffeine and various other contraband and arms and ammunition were often smuggled from Myanmar which shares 1,643 km of unfenced border with four northeastern states -- Mizoram (510 km), Arunachal Pradesh (520 km), Manipur (398 km) and Nagaland (215 km).

While Assam Rifles guard the India-Myanmar border, the Border Security Force (BSF) has been guarding the 1,880-km India-Bangladesh borders with four northeastern states of Tripura (856 km), Meghalaya (443 km), Mizoram (318 km) and Assam (263 km) besides West Bengal (2216 km).



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