Anti-drug activists and policemen destroy poppy plants on a mountain slope in Imphal. Photo: Special Arrangement
GUWAHATI The Bharatiya Janata Party-led Manipur government has claimed its eviction and anti-drug drives— two of the factors said to be behind the clashes Kuki-Meitei clashes— are not targeted against any community.
Data released by K. Meghachandra Singh, the superintendent of police of the Narcotics and Affairs of Border (NAB) on May 16 said poppy plantations on a total of 15,496.8 acres were identified between the 2017-18 fiscal and the 2022-23 fiscal. During this period, 2,518 people were arrested under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985.
Out of the total area under poppy cultivation, 13,121.8 acres were in areas dominated by the Kuki-Chin people, 2,340 acres in Naga-majority areas and 35 acres in areas inhabited by other communities, the data said.
Poppy plantations on a total of 18,664.5 acres and cannabis plantations on a total of 20 acres were destroyed from 2017 to March 2023. The data from 2013-2016 read poppy plantations on 1,889.3 acres and cannabis plantations on 66 acres were destroyed.
Out of the total people arrested from 2017 to April 2023 under the NDPS Act, 873 belonged to the Kuki-Chin communities, 1,083 were Muslims (mostly Meitei Pangals), and 381 were Meiteis. Other communities accounted for the remaining 181 arrested, the data said.
Another set of data released by the government said 291 encroachers were evicted from 20 reserved forests (RFs) and protected forests (PFs) across five districts— three of them in the non-tribal Meitei-dominated Imphal Valley— from January 1, 2017, to April 18, 2023. Many of these settlements had mixed communities.
The data claimed Meitei people were uprooted from 16 of these RFs and PFs, Kabui Nagas from five, Kukis from four, Nepalis from three, Meitei Pangals from two, and Chiru tribals from one.
“The Manipur government never targeted any particular community during eviction drives in protected areas conducted state-wide to preserve forests in view of the deteriorating climatic conditions,” Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh said.
“The drive against drugs too has not been any community-specific. Manipur has only 28 lakh people but 1.4 lakh youth are affected by drugs,” he said, adding that the government launched the crusade as the State has “become a gateway of illegal drugs to mainland Indian States”.