Jharkhand deep into opium cultivation
Cash starved Maoists and splinter groups in Jharkhand have taken to opium cultivation and trading in a big way. The opium is making way to the illegal narcotic factories and dens in Yogi Adityanath ruled Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab where scores of men and youngsters are getting hooked to its addiction every day.
Large consignments of opium that includes its pulpous flowers, stems and raisins—all of these are used in making charas and heroine—loaded in trucks and trailers are clandestinely sneaked out of the Jharkhand jungles every day and shipped to various states in the north.
Sources said the traders’ grease the palms of the law enforcement agencies and in return get easy passage to flee.
Tuesday late night, however, was an odd day for five traders from Uttar Pradesh as the special operation group (SOG) of Ranchi police tracked their truck that originated from Khunti late in the night before they accosted them and seized it near the Dassam Fall police station. All the five men on board the truck, however, managed to flee under the cover of darkness.
When the truck was uncovered, the SOG team found around 21 quintals of doda (opium stem) stacked in around 80 sacks. The truck bore Uttar Pradesh registration number UP 25-T-9517. This means the poppy was headed towards the northern state, where the opium products are in great demand.
“Around midnight I got information that a truck laden with opium stems had left a village and was about to hit the highway. I soon sent a team that managed to apprehend the truck. This is one of the biggest seizures of opium product in Ranchi this year,” said Ranchi senior police superintendent, Kuldip Dwivedi.
Opium is abundantly grown in the remote villages of Ranchi, Khunti, Gumla, Simdega, Latehar, Chatra and Palamu districts of Jharkhand. Every part of the plant gets a price for the farmers. The raisin derived out of the pulpous fruit is way too costly, as it is the main ingredient for making heroin.
An estimated 5 kg of kada (pulpous raisin) is required to produce 1 kg of heroin. In Jharkhand, a farmer sells the pulp for as cheap as Rs 40,000 per kg.
This easy money has lured the Maoists and other splinter groups to coerce and support farmers grow opium in areas under their control. Every department right from the local police station to officials of the narcotic department gets a cut, people involved in the illegal trade said.
Khunti superintendent of police, Ashwini Kumar Singh, declined that his police were anyway supporting poppy cultivation and trade. “We have destructed opium cultivation on large swathes of land in the last three months,” he said.
Latehar SP Dhananjay Singh confirmed that without the tacit support of LWE groups, farmers can never take to opium cultivation on such a large scale in the countryside. He said the Maoists also fund the farmers to grow the crop and when it is sold they get a huge cut.