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Schoolteacher held for growing ganja

Krishnagar, March 4: Weeks after stumbling upon hundreds of schoolteachers who had cannabis growing on their land, Nadia police have arrested one of them.

Police said Prahlad Mondal of Dhananjaypur Upper Primary School in Nakashipara, 130 km from Calcutta, did not pay any heed to the warnings of the district administration, which has been running an awareness campaign against the cultivation of cannabis.

The Telegraph had reported on February 14 that the police had found cannabis plants in the backyards of at least 500 primary school teachers.

Ganja worth over Rs 20 crore has been destroyed during the crackdown launched in January.

The cultivation is banned under the Prevention of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.

Many of the teachers had pleaded ignorance about the crop being cultivated on their land by hired workers or sharecroppers. But the police said many were into it for fast money. A full-grown hemp plant fetches between Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000.

It takes about Rs 5,000 to grow 15-20 plants.

A team of police and excise personnel had raided Mondal’s one-acre land, covered with cannabis. “We destroyed the crop and arrested the teacher,” Nakashipara circle inspector Pannalal Bhattacharjee said.

About a fortnight ago, the administration asked the Nakashipara, Kaligunj and Tehatta residents to destroy their cannabis crop within a week. “The deadline is over and so we have renewed our drive,” district superintendent of police H.K. Kusumakar said.

Over 100 labourers have been engaged to destroy the cannabis plants. Nearly Rs 10 lakh is being spent on the drive.

Kusumakar said the trend is alarming. “We have arrested 40 people already. Cases have been initiated against 50. I’ve sought the CID’s help.”

The arrested teacher’s wife Anima said he had been singled out. “There are so many other teachers (growing ganja). Why will my husband bear the brunt alone'” she asked.

Kusumakar said more teachers could be arrested.

District magistrate .S. Meena has asked for a police report. “We’ll initiate departmental action against government employees and teachers on whose land ganja plants were found,” he said.

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