Contraband smugglers find Seraj valley a haven | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Contraband smugglers find Seraj valley a haven

punjab Updated: Dec 25, 2013 19:24 IST
Roop Upadhyay
Roop Upadhyay
Hindustan Times

After stringent measures and encouragement to farmers for replacing poppy cultivation by agriculture and fruit crops, the Chauhar valley of Drang segment has experienced a positive change.

However, with the administration taking stringent measures, contraband smugglers have shifted their bases to the Seraj valley of Gohar sub-division, which is equally worrisome for the administration.

The police action against the contraband smugglers is appreciable, but spurt in the production of charas (cannabis) and opium is due to allurement to the youth of the area to become rich in a short span of time.

The figures show police have recovered 19 kilograms charas (cannabis) and 450 grams opium from the valley in a year and arrested 23 people, including 12 Seraj valley residents.

Police along with revenue officials have destroyed 648 opium plants and a number of cannabis plants in various parts of the valley; however, seizure of contrabands in huge quantity points to opium cultivation in far-flung and difficult terrains of the Seraj valley.

However, social activists, who are making villagers aware to give up cannabis cultivation, said the far-flung areas of Balichaowki and Thunag sub-tehsil are the epicenter of contraband cultivation, which is out of the sight of common people and panchayati raj institutions, as people avoid entering the forest areas due to presence of leopard and wild bear.

Secondly, there is only one police station (thana) in the area (at Gohar) for 57 gram panchayats whereas nearly 60% area of the the Seraj valley either have no connectivity or condition of the roads are worst, making vehicular traffic difficult. Moreover, police need modern equipment, including vehicles suitable for rough terrains and snow-bound areas.

However, the police department has started upgrading of the Janjehali police post by providing facilities and staff to keep vigil on hidden cultivation of cannabis and opium, and their supply.

The state government's effort to provide jobs and alternate means of living to the village youth would go a long way in ensuring eradication of the illegal business, the activists said.

Station house officer (SHO) at the Gohar police station Naveen Jhalta said police were keeping strict vigil on the movement of contraband smugglers, and concentrated efforts by police had resulted in the arrest of 23 people and huge amount of contraband in short period of time.

He added that police were looking out for the hidden cultivation and supply of contraband and possible involvement of traders from other states.