Biren Singh firm on fight against drugs
Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh on Thursday said his government’s “war on drugs” was a “committed mission” and nobody could derail it with “unfounded” criticisms and politically-motivated instigations.
Singh said this while destroying pre-trial drugs and psychotropic substances worth over Rs 34 crore in the international market at Pungdongbam Chingmang in Imphal East District in the presence of ministers, MLAs, high-ranking police officers, mediapersons, villagers and local leaders. These drugs were seized by Narcotics and Affairs of Border (NAB) and Manipur police, the chief minister’s office said.
Singh asserted that for him, ‘War on Drugs’ is not an idea which was conceptualised recently. He began to feel the need of commencing an effective campaign against intoxicants in mid-90s when he was the editor of a vernacular daily.
After he became the chief minister, he announced the launch of the ‘War on Drugs’ in 2018 on International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which falls on June 26.
Manipur has been affected by the drug menace because of its proximity to the Golden Triangle, a region in Southeast Asia bordering Myanmar, Laos and Thailand and globally considered an opium-producing hub. India shares 1,643 km border with Myanmar from where drugs produced in the Golden Triangle such as opium, heroin, methamphetamine are smuggled into the country through Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland.
Urging different organisations to help fight the drugs menace, Singh said instead of “making fun” of the mission, the government’s efforts should be acknowledged. He did not name anyone.
However, the name of a police official figuring in a drug trafficking case making it to the gallantry award list and assistant superintendent of police Thounaojam
Brinda returning her gallantry medal following the acquittal of seven accused in a high-profile drug trafficking case, has sparked off a lot of discussion and raised questions about the government war on drugs.
The chief minister said travelling to most interior areas, hiking through difficult terrains to destroy poppy plants and convincing villagers to grow alternative cash crops in place of poppy is “not” an easy task.
It needs efforts guided by true conviction, Singh said, adding that “destruction” of poppy farms would continue until villagers stop growing it while lauding the NAB,
Manipur police, paramilitary forces and all thoseinvolved in the ongoing war on drugs.
As part of its war on drugs, the Manipur government has involved the Army and Assam Rifles — to wean away drug users and destroy poppy cultivation in remote border areas.
Talking tough, Singh also said the state government would terminate the service of anybody from the Manipur police department found involved in drug and psychotropic substance related cases no matter whether “he or she is a relative or a family member”.
He informed that around 40 departmental enquiries involving police personnel regarding drug related cases are going on.
Those dealing with drug addicts attribute easy availability of drug, economic status and lack of employment are leading to rise in drug users who are also responsible, among others, for high incidence of HIV/AIDS cases in the state, attributed to “sharing of HIV-infected injecting equipment/needles among the intravenous drug users”.