Absconding smugglers a threat to anti-drug drive in MP’s opium belt

  • Ritesh Mishra and & Milind Laskhari, Hindustan Times, Indore
  • Updated: Jul 01, 2016 19:43 IST
About 30,000 cultivators in the state’s Mandsaur, Neemuch and Ratlam districts grow opium poppy. (Pic for representation)

About 109 absconding drug smugglers have become a threat for security agencies trying to control drug peddling in Madhya Pradesh’s opium belt— Neemuch and Mandsaur.

Absconders might be clandestinely active in drug smuggling

The agencies’ concern is that the absconders might be clandestinely active in drug smuggling and could be channelising the illegal trade through a wider unknown network in the country. Police sources said that some of these smugglers could be living with fake identities in Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

All these smugglers and peddlers have been declared ‘absconding’ since 2003. At least 79 are from Neemuch district and 30 from Mandsaur district.

As per the records, a highest number of 19 smugglers were declared absconding under the Neemuch Cantt police station area between 2003 and May 2016. This was followed by 18 from Jawad police station area, seven from Jeeran, eight from Neemuch city, six Ratangarh, three from Singoli, eight from Manasa and three from Kukdeshwar police station area.

The Malwa-Mewar belt spans across western Madhya Pradesh and southern Rajasthan. Neemuch falls in this belt which has about 38,000 hectares of land under licensed opium cultivation in the country.

The area is one of the few places in the world where poppy is cultivated.

According to records, about 30,000 cultivators in the state’s Mandsaur, Neemuch and Ratlam districts grow opium poppy. However, after 109 opium smuggling who are on the run since 2003 may increase police and security forces problem many fold.

Neemuch superintendent of police Manoj Singh said that police had initiated a drive to nab these smugglers. He said that a couple of smugglers were arrested in the recent past and attempts were on to arrest more. “We have also started identifying their property which will be attached,” he said.

Opium’s legal price has remained static while its price in black market has shot up

The lawful price of opium has remained static for a long time while its price in the black market has shot up recently. This is one of the main reasons why the area has become a hotbed of opium smuggling.

Sources said that the government procurement prices and the rising cost of cultivation and labour often leave the farmers with no choice but to sell their crop to the smugglers who offer them from Rs 8,000 to Rs 1, 00,000 per kg as per the quality of the stuff. Sources said this could work as an incentive for the farmers to grow more opium if the trend went on and indirectly broad-base the illegal trade.

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