On 8 October, Saturday, the Union Home Minister Amit Shah chaired a meeting with Chief Ministers, Chief Secretaries and Director Generals of Police of all North Eastern States on ‘Drug Trafficking and National Security’ in Guwahati, Assam. The meeting discussed the drug abuse scenario in the northeastern region and ways to mitigate it.
Shah explained that the Drug syndicates exploit bank accounts and postal addresses belonging to Northeast India. Myanmar citizens have bank accounts in some Indian banks in Manipur. Drug smugglers from the northeast are also in collusion with Nigerians.
The suspected involvement of South Indians living in the Northeast in drug smuggling has also been observed. In fact the Northeastern region of the country shares international borders with four countries and the region is close to Myanmar, which is the second largest producer of opium in the world after Afghanistan.
This has led drug abuse to become a serious problem in north-eastern states, that can be shown by the Magnitude of Substance Report, 2019 published by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, which states that the consumption of opium and ganja in seven northeastern states is at an alarming level, which is higher than the average of their consumption in the country.
An official declaration has been made in the meeting that states that Tripura, Mizoram, and Arunachal Pradesh are all set to obtain Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) zonal units to bolster the war on drugs in states with porous international borders with countries like Myanmar and Bangladesh. This will be a big milestone in the North-eastern region.
The Union Home Minister briefed the Chief Ministers and top cops of the northeastern states that NCB zones will be established in three states in the first phase, where drug charges are more prevalent. The NCB unit in Guwahati would be converted into the regional headquarters.
He added, in the coming years, NCB will work in four regions namely Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura. Proposals are being made to make new regional offices at Agartala in Tripura and Pasighat/Lower Siang in Arunachal Pradesh. In addition, zonal offices are also being proposed at New Jalpaiguri for better coverage of the adjoining Sikkim areas.
Also an inter-ministerial committee has been constituted on alternative livelihood arrangements for farmers engaged in the cultivation of illegal crops. Suggestions have been asked for the replacement crops for ganja and opium, which will be very advantageous for Tripura because there are many ganja growers there because of the high labor costs and enormous harvest profits.
The meeting also emphasised on efforts to free people from the drug mafia’s control.
In the meeting special emphasis has also been placed on upgrading current forensic science facilities with the greatest equipment feasible to make them suitable to handle drug-related forensic investigations.