Monday, May 29, 2023

Future in jeopardy

During the past decades, states in the north east region, particularly Manipur, have earned a dubious distinction of having a very huge number of IDUs and also the highest ratio of HIV/AIDS prevalence in the country. North east India could face a huge social, political, economic and security crisis in the coming decades, as several thousand drug users, some of who are as young as medium primary school students, become a growing nightmare in the region. Impure drugs (crudely refined) from Myanmar are packed in sachets and sold cheap at affordable prices to remain within the reach of school going children. In Nagaland, the districts bordering Myanmar are witnessing an ever growing number of young children who are getting hooked to drugs. Even in other parts of Nagaland, a growing number of children are getting hooked on drugs. This was confirmed at a recent crackdown on drugs and alcohol by a ward union in Dimapur. According to the information, the team during the crackdown, caught scores of students including girls with the banned psychotropic drug –yaba or Ice. Almost 80 per cent of the world’s drug production originate from the “Golden Crescent” and the “Golden Triangle” area, now called “Golden Pentagon” with the induction of Vietnam-Cambodia and Nagaland-Manipur in Northeast India. The smuggling route is anywhere through the porous border between Myanmar and Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram etc. One well known drug trafficking route is from Moreh (Manipur), Champai (Mizoram), Dimapur (Nagaland), and Guwahati (Assam) to other parts of India. This route has become the nucleus of drug trafficking industry in India’s northeast. Among the widely sold drugs is Ya ba (methamphetamine; Thai- literally ‘crazy medicine’), formerly known as yama (Thai: literally ‘horse drug’). Another popular drug widely used in Nagaland is Ice (crystal methamphetamine), a drug that stimulates the brain and nervous system, and is highly addictive. When law enforcers turn law offenders the problem multiplies several times over. It may be recalled that in February 2013, a public relations officer of the Indian Army was caught with Rs.24 crore worth of narcotic drugs consignment in Manipur. Others nabbed included members of a private airline and a family member of a former home minister of Manipur. Not just some members of the armed forces, the police and politicians too have often been indicted in India’s narcotics industry. The biggest seizure in 2021 was in December when Assam Rifles and Manipur Police seized over 54 kgs of heroin valued at Rs.508 crore in the market. Drug use continues to remain a growing trend, especially among the young since the traffickers have successfully established well organised networks at various levels. One of the factor that has facilitated trafficking is the growing cycle of addiction, easy availability as well as the low price for drugs and also used to lace various food items coming from Myanmar. Despite recent crackdown in nearby Lahorijan and Khatkhati in neighbouring Karbi Anglong district, drug mafias have reportedly shifted to nearby Dimapur and also changed tactics by using mobile outlets. Most shocking is the revelation and as published in this newspaper, that teen aged school children and minors as young as 10 are using drugs. This only exposes how dangerous the situation has become in the state.

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