The seeds of catastrophic failure were sown amidst the outbreak of violence on May 3, 2023, fueled by political machinations and bankrolled by the drug cartels. These nefarious forces have cunningly cleaved Manipur into two, creating a situation where even the deployment of a substantial armed force presence has become a mere tool in the hands of these malevolent actors.
By Dr Marc Nongmaithem
Manipur, a once-beautiful state, now lies in the shadow of despair, devastation and corruption. It is with a heavy heart that we acknowledge the grim reality that Manipur seems to have lost the war to drug cartels supported by armed militants.
The seeds of this catastrophic failure were sown amidst the outbreak of violence on May 3, 2023, fueled by political machinations and bankrolled by the drug cartels. These nefarious forces have cunningly cleaved Manipur into two, creating a situation where even the deployment of a substantial armed force presence has become a mere tool in the hands of these malevolent actors. The government’s response, though ostensibly focused on restoring peace and normalcy, has been distressingly inadequate. It’s as if the very institutions meant to protect the citizens have been shackled or compromised. The government’s ineffectiveness in countering these anti-social elements leaves us wondering whether this failure is by design.
As sporadic and intermittent violence continues to ravage Manipur, the government’s response has been nothing short of dismal. Rather than taking proactive measures to counter these menacing elements, there is mounting question over alleged collusion between government officials and the very drug cartels plaguing the state. If the allegation is true, it would be a total betrayal of the people’s trust and a testament to the dark depths of corruption.
The plight of the thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who remain stranded in relief camps and other places is a harrowing testament to the government’s inaction and indifference. The statistics are stark, with the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) estimating that the violence in Manipur has uprooted around 66,000 individuals, the majority being women and children. They grapple daily with the most basic necessities – food, water, shelter, healthcare, and education. The mental toll is equally devastating, with despair, hopelessness, and isolation driving some to contemplate suicide. The authorities seem to have distanced themselves from concerted effort to address this humanitarian crisis, leading one to suspect complicity in perpetuating this dire situation.
In a cruel irony, the government, while struggling to bring peace to Manipur, has been notably successful in stifling communication like imposing a ban on internet (mobile data) and imposing curfews mostly on the law-abiding citizens in the valley belt. The government’s implicit focus on suppressing information rather than the actual threats is a disturbing paradox. To make matters worse, the clandestine cultivation of illegal opium and marijuana in the hills continues unabated as per reliable sources despite the supposedly reconstituted Anti-Narcotics Task Force (ANTF). This task force, established to tackle the drug problem, has achieved little to nothing in dismantling these plantations enabling militants and drug cartels continue to run amok unchecked, with the armed forces seemingly turning a blind eye to the alleged rampant opium and ganja cultivations in the hills.
The formation of the reconstituted Anti-Narcotics Task Force (ANTF) held the promise of addressing the drug menace, a significant driver of violence in the state. Yet, since the outbreak of violence in May 2023, there has been an alarming lack of progress in eradicating illegal poppy and ganja plantations. The ANTF has thus far failed to make any significant impact on the drug problem, let alone the destruction of poppy plantations in the hills.
A recent report from the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) paints a bleak picture, ranking Manipur as one of the top five states in India for drug seizures. Manipur not only serves as a major transit point for drugs from the Golden Triangle in Myanmar but also hosts rampant illegal drug cultivation within its borders. The ANTF’s inability to make any headway in this struggle against narcotics can be attributed to one pervasive factor: corruption and complicity. Consequently, the task force has been rendered useless, unable to make a single arrest or dent the illicit poppy plantations that fuel the illegal narcotics trade. The illegal poppy cultivation continues to operate with impunity in Manipur, while those entrusted with the well-being of the state’s citizens also turn a blind eye.
The fundamental question we must confront is this: How much longer must the people of Manipur endure this nightmare before the government takes decisive action against the drug cartels and the militants? Is it an impossible task when those in power appear entangled in the very web of drugs and alleged arms trade? It is a deeply unsettling realization that we may have indeed lost the war on drugs to these nefarious forces.
In conclusion, Manipur finds itself in a nightmarish scenario, where the people have lost the battle against drug cartels and armed militants due to government’s inept handling, corruption and complicity. It is a grim reality that demands immediate attention and action, before the situation deteriorates beyond repair.
(Dr Marc Nongmaithem is an informed/concerned citizen who loves to write on issues of public importance. The opinion expressed here are the writer’s own and does not represent the views of TFM )