Destitutes begging for alms in Madhya Pradesh now have a covert operation of helping investigators track down poppy husk smugglers, who are fooling cops with their current practice of supplying illegal consignments to neighbouring Rajasthan via trains.
To contain illegal smuggling of poppy husk and opium from the rich Malwa-Mewar belt across western Madhya Pradesh and southern Rajasthan, Indore district police, railway protection force (RPF) and the state narcotics wing have started engaging beggars and vendors, claim highly placed sources of investigating agencies.
After Rajasthan government shut down its poppy husk vends from April 31, its consumer base, mostly comprising of farmers in Punjab, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, made beelines for de-addiction centres but to no avail. A total of 109 opium smugglers hitherto active in the opium belt of Neemuch and Mandsaur have been declared ‘absconding’ since 2003. Sources say low government procurement prices and rising cost of cultivation and labour force farmers to sell opium poppy to smugglers in the Rs 8,000- Rs 1,00,000 per kg price range.
On Tuesday, Government Railway Police (GRP) seized a consignment of poppy husk near Malahargarh police station under Neemuch district and arrested two people. District Superintendent of Police ( GRP) DSR Chauhan said they were tipped off that smugglers on-board a passenger train are carrying 40kg of poppy husk.
Police sources admitted that the operation was successful because of inputs from beggars and vendors near the railway station, who have been trained to spy on activities of smugglers.
“ We are now training various beggars and vendors of this area to identify illegal smugglers and their consignments,” said a police officer, adding that beggars are trained to identify consignments in trains or on platforms to inform the sleuths.