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Conference on illicit drugs

Guwahati, Dec. 5: Arunachal Pradesh governor Lt Gen. (retd) Nirbhay Sharma today said transborder drug trafficking in the Northeast (including Sikkim), which shares a 5,437km border with Bangladesh, China, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan, will create serious national security risks.

“There is rampant use of drugs, high incidence of HIV/AIDS, regular ethnic conflict, poverty and unemployment in the Northeast. Easy access and availability of illegal drugs and close proximity with places like Laos, Thailand and Myanmar have also contributed to the problem. Such disturbing phenomenon in the frontier states will create a dangerous situation in terms of national security,” Sharma said, while inaugurating a conference on Illicit Drugs in the Northeast here.

The two-day conference has been organised by Institute for Narcotics Studies and Analysis (INSA), a research organisation.

On rampant opium cultivation in Arunachal Pradesh, particularly in Tirap and Anjaw districts, the governor said though enforcement agencies were destroying the opium, their preventive wing was almost defunct.

“If an awareness campaign is conducted when the farmers are sowing poppy seeds in September and October, the cultivators may decide to abandon the cultivation. Those cultivating opium should be provided with alternative crops for cultivation,” Sharma said.

He said tackling the problem of illicit drugs in the Northeast was a joint responsibility of Narcotics Control Bureau, ministries and departments of rural development, agriculture, social justice and welfare and health.

The director-general of the directorate of revenue intelligence, Najib Shah, said it should be debated whether enforcement alone was a solution to tackle the problem.

Dalbir Singh of INSA said the Northeast was more affected by the illicit drug problem and addiction.

Representatives from organisations working against illicit drugs in Thailand, China and Japan, Myanmar and Portugal will also share their knowledge with excise, customs and police officials from Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, Sikkim, Assam, Megh-alaya and Arunachal Pradesh during the conference.