Drugs valued at Rs 7,887.76 cr seized; 2,943 held in 7 years in Manipur: Official

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Imphal, May 18 (IANS) Various law enforcing agencies have seized various drugs worth Rs 7,887.76 crore and arrested 2,943 people during the last seven years in Manipur, an official said on Saturday, citing a document.

According to the document, since 2017, a total of 2,351 cases in connection with the drugs smuggling and illegal trading of various drugs have been registered under Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act 1985 and other laws.

"Sudden spikes in seizure of the staggering quantity of drugs trafficked from Myanmar in Mizoram since 2023 have been witnessed following the ethnic unrest in Manipur," the official paper said.

According to the official document, around 16,161 acres of poppy cultivation in the Kuki-Zo community-dominated areas in the districts of Churachandpur and Kangpokpi were destroyed under the 'War on Drugs' campaign of the Manipur government.

The poppy has been used to manufacture various drugs. There has been continuous threat to the state's heterogeneous population and demography due to the constant upsurge in the number of illegal migrants.

There was a massive influx of illegal immigrants from Myanmar into Manipur, particularly in the years 1988 and 1962.

No measures were undertaken to collect their biometric data or identities. They were freely allowed to continuously encroach and settle upon the Protected Forest areas of Manipur, the official document said.

"The demographic changes taking place by the influx of immigrants and the adverse outcomes which have been taking place for years even before the measure for identification was launched. Even before the state government started the drive to identify and collect the biometric data of the immigrants, as many as 996 new villages had already mushroomed in Manipur as a result of years of illegal immigration which went unchecked and undetected."

Since the military took over the administration in Myanmar in February 2021, at least 8,000 Myanmarese have taken shelter in Manipur's Tengnoupal, Chandel, Churachandpur, and Kamjong districts and the Manipur government has already recorded the biometric details of the majority of the refugees.

"These fresh arrivals of illegal immigrants into Manipur, following the Military coup in Myanmar are just a tip of the iceberg," the official document noted.

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh and leaders of other civil society organisations have often claimed that smuggling of drugs from Myanmar, illegitimate poppy cultivation and illegal immigration of people in Manipur from across the border are associated with the ethnic unrest and violence, that broke out in Manipur since May 3, 2023.

Biren Singh has said that 877 sq km of forest cover in the northeastern state were destroyed in 34 years (1987-2021), primarily for the illegal cultivation of poppy.

The eviction of unauthorised encroachers has been carried out ever since the BJP government led by Singh came to power in Manipur in 2017 and 291 encroachers were evicted from the Reserve Forest and Protected Forest throughout the state.

"The eviction drive was never targeted towards any particular community," the Chief Minister pointed out.