The Assam-Bangladesh border, often used by illegal immigrants to enter India, is now posing another headache for the government. Officials say many immigrants are cultivating ganja on a large scale on both sides of the Brahmaputra in western Assam.
The drug menace was highlighted by officials from the tax department, narcotics, customs, police and intelligence agencies during a meeting in Shillong.
They said ganja was being cultivated in the river’s sandbars using farming equipment such as tillers, tractors and fertilisers.
“The illicit trade fetches a lot of money,” read an official note. “The culprits are mainly illegal (Bangladeshi) immigrants with money and power, who have penetrated the heartlands of Assam,” it added.
Thanks to the difficult terrain and remote locations picked by the culprits, the authorities have been caught on the back foot. “By the time we destroy one crop, another comes up,” said a narcotics official.
In several areas, ganja farming has replaced food crops and oilseeds that used to be cultivated there. “The area has become the main ganja granary, with supplies going to Bangladesh and mainland India. It is a focal area as far as the drug mafia is concerned,” the official said.