A joint operation that was part of the crackdown against drugs and illegal cultivation of opium was undertaken by the police, forest officials and members of the Manipur Rifles on November 14-15, thereby marking a significant stride in the ongoing battle against drug-related activities.
During the first day of the operation at Tora Champhung Hill Range, a total of 16 hectares of illegal poppy fields were eradicated. Additionally, the security forces burned 20 huts and dismantled key infrastructure, including pipeline connections, fertilisers, salt, herbicides, and pesticides.
The relentless efforts continued on the second day, with the joint forces conducting a poppy destruction drive at the Phalee-Tora-Champhung Hill range in Ukhrul District. This phase of the operation witnessed the destruction of 15 hectares of poppy plantations and the burning of 25 huts. The comprehensive approach aimed not only at eliminating illegal cultivation but also at disrupting associated support structures.
The Chief Minister of Manipur emphasised the commitment to the war on drugs, asserting that such operations would persist. The coordinated efforts of the Police, Forest, and Manipur Rifles underscore the determination to tackle the drug menace and maintain law and order in the region. As the state grapples with ongoing violence, this focused initiative signals a proactive stance in curbing the activities fueling unrest and instability.
Sharing a video clip of the poppy cultivation destruction drive CM N Biren Singh wrote in microblogging site ‘X’, “I appreciate the update on the joint efforts to combat illegal poppy cultivation in Phalee-Champhung-Changta -Tora hill ranges by Ukhrul police, 6MR, and the Forest department. The commitment to continuing the destruction drive until the illegal practices are eradicated reflects a strong stance against such activities. Destruction drive will continue in the coming days till this illegal practice is completely wiped out.”
According to official data released by the Manipur government over 900 Myanmar migrant Kuki-Chin persons were arrested by Manipur police for illegal poppy cultivation and drug trade in the last seven years. Similarly, a release by the Manipur home department stated that at least 1083 Muslims were arrested during the same period for illegal poppy cultivation and drug trade.
From 2017 to April 2023, over 2500 were arrested, and Manipur police destroyed 15,496 acres of poppy cultivation. According to the data released by the home department of Manipur, the Kuki-Chin community witnessed a substantial number of arrests over the years. In 2017, 82 individuals were apprehended, followed by 54 in 2018, 122 in 2019, 127 in 2020, 151 in 2021, 288 in 2022, and 49 in 2023. 873 Kuki Chin migrants were arrested during the period for illegal poppy cultivation. Similarly, 93 Muslims were arrested in 2017, 223 in 2018, 201 in 2019, 177 in 2020, 163 in 2021, 210 in 2022, and 16 in 2023, with a cumulative total of 1083 arrests. The Meitei community accounted for 44 arrests in 2017, 67 in 2018, 64 in 2019, 54 in 2020, 40 in 2021, 98 in 2022, and 14 in 2023, totalling 381 arrests. Additionally, there were 181 arrests from other communities in the State.
Overall, 2518 individuals have been arrested under NDPS cases from 2017 to 2023 in Manipur. It has been alleged by various Manipur-based organisations that the arrests for illegal poppy cultivation and the destruction of poppy cultivation are a big blow to the Kuki militant organisations as well. Many Manipur-based organisations believe that narco-terrorism has a big role in the ongoing violence in the state. They said many Kuki Zo militant organisations, including those who are under suspension of operation (SoO) are also involved in poppy cultivation and drug smuggling. Meitei organisations like COCOMI believe that the recent series of attacks on the Hindu Meiti community by the Kuki Militant organisation is also retaliation against the war on drugs by the Manipur Government. Meanwhile, CM Buren Singh further said that the state government is intensifying its war on drugs and will not stop until the drug menace is completely rooted out of the state.