Poppy cultivators went into a tizzy as soon as a cavalcade of smartly dressed ‘officers’ reached Kanavati village in MP’s Neemuch district on Thursday.
Unable to comprehend what the babus were saying, the villagers presumed it to be a raid by the narcotics department and started running with some leaving the village for over half-an-hour.
Around 50 probationary Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officers reached the Neemuch village to take stock of the opium production. Their unannounced arrival, however, triggered panic among the farmers working on the poppy field.
“We saw the narcotic department officers, about 50 of them, and thought something big was going to happen… We thought it was a raid and so some of the villagers started running outside the village,” said Sikandar Patidar, a villager. Kanavati village is about 7 km from the district headquarters.
Leader of opium farmers’ union of Malwa, Umarao Gurjar, told HT: “I got a call from the (Kanavati) village that a massive raid was being undertaken by the narcotics department. I rushed to the village and informed others to gather at the village. When I reached, I found that it was a mere visit of some revenue officers who had come to see the opium production.”
Around 30,000 farmers are engaged in poppy cultivation in Neemuch, Mandsaur and Ratlam districts which comes under the Malwa region, which is one of the highest producers of opium in the country.
“We came here to observe opium farming of Malwa region and also to understand the process of opium production,” said Pinki Baske, a trainee officer, who was part of the IRS officers’ team.
Central Bureau of Narcotic (Neemuch unit) inspector, GS Khan said around 40 trainee officers of IRS had visited the Malwa region on Thursday to study the opium production process.