Ukhrul (Manipur), March 25 (ANI): An anti-poppy operation launched by volunteers of All Manipur Anti Drug Association (AMADA), Assam Rifles, Litan police station, and Narcotics Control Bureau (Imphal Unit) met with disappointment, as poppy cultivators had already extracted the seeds from the plants before the arrival of the team in Ukhrul district of Manipur state.
The joint team uncovered a poppy cultivation site of about 2,000 acres in Ukhrul district alone. But on its arrival at the spot, it turned out that nearly all the poppy seeds had been harvested leaving the plants standing.
The team also discovered that an adjoining field of about the same size had been cleared, apparently for planting more poppy plants. All the plants were destroyed.
R K Ibosana Singh, intelligence officer of the Narcotics Control Bureau, Imphal unit, said that on the basis of anonymous tips, they have launched a massive campaign, 'Operation Armstrong II', to destroy poppy plantations in all the hill districts of Ukhrul, Chandel and Churachandpur in Manipur state.
"Without expressing the name of the informer, they come to office and say-as a young citizen I have all the right to inform these things for the betterment of our society. There are some poppy plants, planted by some unknown persons, and this makes all the youth intoxicated by taking it in mouth and by boiling it....and taking it in liquid form," said Singh.
The team also found makeshift huts constructed at the poppy cultivation sites to ostensibly store the poppy harvest.
Empty boxes of khaini (tobacco), which were used for scrapping opium from poppy fruits, were also found.
Local villagers say that they are compelled to cultivate poppy since they do not have alternatives to sustain their livelihood.
"Every community comes and buys the extracted opium, including Meitei, and Kukis. Our village is very poor. So we have planted them to sustain our livelihood. As we don't have any agricultural land, we buy our daily basic needs with the income generated from these plants," said Lhungpu Haokip, village chief of Thawaii village, Ukhrul.
The Anti-Narcotics Department of Manipur has noted that a high income generated from the poppy cultivation coupled with demand from Myanmar has led villagers in the border area of the state to growing poppies illegally.
As per reports, the crude produce of poppy grown in the state is smuggled out to cater to the Golden Triangle through the porous Indo-Myanmar border.
The Golden Triangle is located in the hilly terrains of the South East Asian countries, namely Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, and is considered to be one of the largest heroin producing zones of the world.
India allows poppy cultivation under licence in very small pockets and under strict supervision, with the produce solely used for medicinal use. (ANI)