Imphal, Dec 31: In the ongoing drive against poppy cultivation in Manipur, a total of 703 persons, including five chiefs of villages in the hills were arrested and over 400 acres of fields with poppy plants were destroyed.
The Manipur government has taken a tough stand against the poppy cultivation in the state and, so far, many people associated with poppy cultivation have been arrested.
Talking to media persons, Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh said poppy farmers who surrendered voluntarily would be exempted from police cases but added that legal action would be initiated against those encouraging and supporting its cultivation.
Singh reiterated his government’s firm commitment on making Manipur a drug free state.
The Chief Minister said the drive against illegal poppy cultivation in the hilly areas across the state was going in full-swing. He informed that as many as 703 people allegedly associated in the illegal practice of poppy were arrested.
“Five chiefs of villages were among the arrested persons. As many as 497 cases were also registered against poppy cultivators and so far poppy plants on around 400 acres of fields were destroyed. We will initiate legal action against the persons associated with poppy cultivation,” he informed.
The chief minister further said the war on drugs was going in a positive direction and on the verge of success as people of all sections of the society have extended their support to the government’s initiative.
“Now, the war on drugs has become a people’s movement. We will achieve the goal of making Manipur free from drugs,” Singh said.
Eastern Manipur’s five districts share around 400 km border with Myanmar with less than 10 per cent of its international border with Myanmar being fenced, facilitating a safe transit route for illegal drugs trading to northeast India from ‘Golden Triangle’, the tri-junction of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand borders – a hub of a thriving drugs peddling economy.
The state’s geographical proximity to the ‘Golden Triangle’ and socio-economic-political situations are coming in the way of the ‘War against Drugs’- a campaign launched by the BJP-led government headed by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh in 2018.
Besides the illegal drugs trade, in at least five hilly districts of Manipur – Ukhrul, Senapati, Kangpokpi, Kamjong, Churachandpur, and Tengnoupal – poppy cultivation is another big issue in the north eastern state.
Poppy cultivation is an easy source of income for a large number of people as it is used in producing many drugs including Morphine.
Around 18,000 acres of illicit poppy, cultivated mostly in the mountainous areas, were destroyed by the various law enforcing agencies including Manipur police in between 2017-2022.