Supply of drugs to mainland via NE states to be curbed: Assam CM

Guwahati/Agartala, Jul 18, 2021, IANS

The Assam government, which launched a resolute crusade against narcotics to make the state drugs-free, is also keen to wipe out the supply of drugs to other states of India through the northeastern region.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday said that the drugs smuggled into India originated from Pakistan and from across the frontiers along the northeastern states specially from Myanmar.

"With coordinated efforts of the northeastern states and other security agencies, we have to jointly curtail the chain of drugs supply to the rest of the country through the northeastern region," he said after the second day of the two-day public function to burn and destroy seized drugs.

Sarma said that the coordinated efforts of the northeastern states would be further intensified when Union Home Minister Amit Shah would attend the meeting of North Eastern Council on July 24. The Chief Minister said that Shah already said that drug peddling, cattle smuggling and human trafficking are the major problems of the northeastern region and these should be dealt with utmost priority and with a synchronised actions among the northeastern states.

These seized drugs worth Rs 170 crore were burnt in public ceremonies in Karbi Anglong, Golaghat districts on Saturday and Hojai and Nagaon districts on Sunday. On Sunday, Sarma himself drove a bulldozer at Barhampur in Nagaon and destroyed 58,000 bottles of seized cough syrup being used as drugs among lower income group people.

Sarma, who became the 15th Chief Minister of Assam on May 10 and also holds the home portfolio, said that in the last two months, police have seized 19 kg heroin, 14 kg opium, 1,920 kg morphine, 33,014 poppy straw, 8,276 kg ganja, 67,650 bottles of cough syrup, 12,93,000 high stimulating tablets, Rs 1 crore in cash, foreign currencies equivalent to Rs 13,630, fake Indian currency worth Rs 6.80 lakh and destroyed cannabis (ganja) plantation in 31 bighas of land.

"The amount of drugs seized could be only 10 per cent of what is coming to Assam, as drugs that go through Assam would be worth more than Rs 5,000 crore per year," he said. In a series of tweets, the Chief Minister said: "We shall not tolerate Assam being used as a transit route for psychotropic substances and our youths falling prey to contraband drugs. Destroying seized drugs worth Rs 170 cr over the last two days speaks volumes of the money involved in drugs trade. It involves evasion of GST and is a severe dent to the economy. We're working in coordination with Manipur and Mizoram to eliminate drug menace from northeast India," he added.

Officials said that drugs and various other contraband, including exotic animals and reptiles, are often smuggled in from Myanmar which shares 1,643 km of unfenced borders with four northeastern states -- Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland. Among the drugs, the very addictive stimulant drug Methamphetamine contains a mix of methamphetamine and caffeine, and is the highest demand item among the contraband.

The methamphetamine tablets, also locally and commonly known as 'Yaba' and 'Party tablets' and 'WY' (World is Yours), is a synthetic drug, and is misused as high-dosage drug in Bangladesh and neighbouring countries, besides India.

"The raw material of these tablets -- Pseudoephedrine -- is smuggled into Myanmar where it is further processed and then smuggled into India through the India-Myanmar border. A bulk amount of the drug is smuggled into Bangladesh," a Border Security Force (BSF) official said in Agartala.

Assam Rifles, BSF, Railway Protection Force (RPF) jointly with state security forces regularly apprehend drug peddlers and seize various drugs including foreign cigarettes in Mizoram, Manipur, Assam, Tripura and other northeastern states which share 5,437 kms of international borders with China (1,300 kms), Myanmar (1,643 kms), Bangladesh (1,880 kms), Bhutan (516 kms) and Nepal (98 kms).