Political parties in poll-bound Mizoram may be at loggerheads over their politics but have a common agenda as well — making New Delhi ban a pharmaceutical pill, manufactured in India, processed illegally in southeast Asia and smuggled back into the country as a lethal party drug, Meth.
Indian firms manufacture pseudoephedrine pills — used to treat nasal or sinus congestion — and sell them legally through pharmacies. But these pills have another use. Smuggled out through Mizoram and Manipur, drug barons in the notorious Golden Triangle — Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand — turn them into methamphetamine, aka meth.
Meth has virtually captured the space heroin and cannabis enjoyed in Mizoram for almost 30 years. The state is wary of the deadly web this drug has cast. Its consumption has claimed more lives than heroin in recent years.
The dip in heroin deaths has coincided with spike in meth deaths — five in 2012 and 16 till September 13 this year. Deaths due to heroin abuse fell from 11 in 2009 to three in 2012. Deaths due to intoxicating painkillers have also shown a dip. The abuse of Spasmo Proxyvon, Spasmocip and Parvon Spas killed 133 in 2003 and 37 last year.
“We seized 1,298 meth tablets between 2001 and 2011. The figure may not seem alarming, but meth is much more dangerous than heroin. And the 630 kg pseudoephedrine tablets we seized since 1999 is just the tip of the iceberg,” said excise and narcotics commissioner Lalbiakmawia Khiangte.
The modus operandi
The meth routes cut through half of Mizoram’s 40 assembly constituencies in Champhai, Serchhip, Lunglei, Saiha, Lawngtlai and Aizawl districts. Couriers sneak in through the porous Myanmar border to Mizoram’s east and south, entering Bangladesh in the west.
“Drug abuse is possibly the only malaise in Mizoram. Our enforcement officials are doing a good job of intercepting large consignments of meth and arresting couriers. But the battle against meth can be won only if the Centre controls the manufacture of pseudoephedrine,” said chief minister Lal Thanhawla.
Fighting drug abuse is one of the priorities of the Congress party Lal Thanhawla heads in Mizoram. Regional rivals, the Mizo National Front, Zoram Nationalist Party and the Mizoram People’s Congress (MPC) too, have sounded the bugle against the menace.
“We want New Delhi to ban the production of pseudoephedrine and replace it with other decongestants like phenylephrine, as is being done by other countries to deny illicit meth factories in Southeast Asia their supply of raw material,” said MPC president Lalhmangaiha Sailo.