Explained: How Poppy And China Disturbed Peace in Manipur?

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Northeastern states are under Chinese influence and funding as members of a worldwide narcotics cartel; as a result, China indirectly chooses the leaders of these states to implement its agenda.

Chandigarh (ABC Live) At least 130 people have been killed and 400 wounded in the violence that began in Manipur in May. 

According to news reports, the unrest is a result of the struggle between Meiteis (Hindu) and Kukis (Christian). This has resulted in more than 60,000 being displaced from their homes as authorities attempt to restore order.

The circulation of a video showing Kuki women being subjected to a hostile crowd of Meiteis has propelled this issue to the national spotlight, given its potential political ramifications with regards to the 2024 General Election.

The ABC National Research team refers a research paper authored by Thounaojam Naresh Singh and Nongmaithem Kishorchannd Singh titled “The Poppy Menace In Manipur: Causes, Consequences And Responses” published on European Chemical Bulletin.

The Research paper says as under:

India is sandwiched between two largest opium/heroine producing regions in the world—the Golden Crescent in Afghanistan and the Golden Triangle in the adjoining regions of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos. 

Traditionally, Northeast India, particularly the state of Manipur, has been a major transit route in illicit drug trade originating from the Golden Triangle. But in the recent years, in Manipur, there has been a tremendous increase in the cultivation and production of poppy which remain a primary component of a thriving opium/drug economy.

 This could have been fallout of the declining trend in Myanmar’s poppy production. This has been a major challenge to the state of Manipur which has been reeling under political and armed conflict for more than six decades. Considering the menace, the government of Manipur has taken several steps under “War on Drugs 2.0” campaign. 

In the recent years, the drug cartels in Myanmar have switched from creating plant-based drugs like heroin and opium, which require space and are reliant on enormous amounts of labour and the weather, to synthetic drugs like methamphetamine, which are less expensive and simpler to create.

The cultivation and manufacturing of poppies is allegedly shifting from Golden Triangle to Northeast India, particularly Manipur. Manipur has already experienced a variety of unrest, including armed conflicts, insurgency issues, ethnic violence, high prevalence of HIV/AIDS positive cases and also known for its transit route for drug trade.

To counter the rising poppy menace the government of Manipur launched the “War on Drug” campaign since 2018. 

As a part of the campaign, alternative crops were introduced in some areas of the districts as part of government initiatives. Cardamom and lemongrass were identified as substitute crops to replace poppy. But the issue of whether this substitute crop can rival poppies arises. 

According to the farmer, the only way to end poverty is to grow poppies on a far-off hill outside the purview of law enforcement organizations/agencies like the police, Assam Rifles, NAB, etc. 

The poppy growers cleared jungles, hills, and even lands in order to boost poppy cultivation output. The natural cycle was disrupted by this extensive deforestation, and as a result, many people experience frequent diseases, floods, and droughts every year. This practice not only has an impact on drug users but also poses a serious danger to the lives of residents of both plain valleys and hilly areas. The hill areas, inhabited by Schedule Tribes are being widely used for poppy cultivation—the unripe seed pod which is used to produce opium.

In a paper presented at the UN in 1998 by Morung Makunga, the then Health Mister of Manipur, noted that Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland collectively were responsible for “smuggling of at least 20kgs of heroin daily” (Makunga, 1998).

“Every drug haul in the Northeast and most in the rest of India is somehow connected to Manipur which is very unfortunate. Despite a massive campaign since 2018, the result is not very impressive. While drug traffickers are being caught by the security, the investigations have fallen short on the real kingpins, most of whom are based in Myanmar”, said Geetchandra Mangang, Secretary General of Coalition Against Drugs and Alcohol (CADA).

To smuggle poppy into the Golden Triangle and back again, drug mafias or drug kingpins have established a robust network with Manipur and Myanmar. Drug trafficking is not a new trend in the state (Manipur); however, the unprecedented rise of poppy cultivation raises a red signal that adversely impacts the northeast regions (NER) and the rest of India (Oinam, 2022). 

The white flower smudges on the notes, mostly in the districts of Ukhrul, Senapati, Kangpokpi, Kamjong, Churachandpur and Tengnoupal, indicate that Manipur is no longer just a drug transit hub. Poppies are frequently grown in the hilly regions where Schedule Tribes live. These regions are also Kuki tribal dominated areas, where armed underground groups are said to be involved in controlling and funding the drug cultivation, refining and trade.

In China and Myanmar, there are still several powerful trafficking organizations. Additionally, it has been claimed by international observers that individuals with connections to China are directly or indirectly in charge of the Indian subcontinent's present drug trade. These Northeastern states are under Chinese influence and funding as members of a worldwide narcotics cartel; as a result, China indirectly chooses the leaders of these states, even if it may appear that New Delhi does. India's or the Northeast's political economy today and in the future could suffer irreparable harm. The moment to take action is now, so consider where India's national security stands in respect to illegal drugs and China's omnipresent influence in South or Southeast Asia (Laang, 2022). Also it was reported that the armed tribal group signed under suspension of operations known as Kuki National Army (KNA) and Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA) insurgents have been instigating poppy cultivators in Manipur against the government, which has been taking action against illegal poppy cultivators and destroying poppy fields in forest lands, especially in reserve and protected areas.

To read complete research report click here

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