Militants in northeast using drug money to buy arms

April 29th, 2008 - 11:46 am ICT by admin  

By Syed Zarir Hussain
Guwahati, April 29 (IANS) A flourishing narcotics trade along India’s border with Myanmar has been helping scores of rebel armies getting funding for their violent military campaigns, officials here said. “In India’s northeast, narcotics trade and insurgency are close allies with militants trading in heroin and other forms of drugs to procure arms to continue with their secessionist campaigns,” an Indian intelligence official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

India’s northeast has earned the notoriety of being the launching pad for drug trafficking into the rest of the country with the region sharing borders with the heroin-producing Golden Triangle of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar.

India and Myanmar share a 1,643 km unfenced border.

“Poppy grown on the Indian side of the border is transported into Myanmar for refining and the refined heroin either finds its way to Thailand or is routed back into the northeast Indian states of Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Meghalaya,” the official said.

“The lucrative drugs trade is the primary source of finances for the many rebel groups in the northeast.”

On Sunday, police and army intelligence sleuths in Assam’s main city of Guwahati arrested three militants of the People’s United Liberation Front (PULF), a Manipur-based Islamist outfit, and made a large haul of prescription drugs during a raid at a rented accommodation.

“We seized about 27,000 capsules of spasmoproxyvon from the militants. It appears the PULF militants are part of an organised drug syndicate,” Debojit Deuri, additional police chief of Guwahati city, said.

Spasmoproxyvon is a potent analgesic and used by intravenous drug users.

There are about 30 outlawed separatist groups active in seven northeastern states with demands ranging from secession to greater autonomy and the right to self-determination.

“The porous border with Myanmar is helping the trade in narcotics drugs,” a senior official of the Narcotics and Border Affairs of Manipur said.

Heroin and synthetic pharmaceuticals illegally trafficked from Myanmar into India’s northeast has led to a rise in drug abuse and an HIV epidemic in the region, a United Nations study said.

“Drug trafficking across the common border of Myanmar and the northeastern state of Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland occurs with ease. Despite the existence of heavy security, heroin does transit the border and is therefore accessible to the local youths of these states,” a recent report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Indian government said.

“Northeastern states which are distant from the Myanmar border have generally reported fewer episodes of heroin injecting compared to the states which are closer to the border. Thus, there is a direct correlation between proximity to the border and drug abuse,” the report said.

The unabated flow of amphetamines from Myanmar into the northeast is another area where the UNODC expressed concern.

“Myanmar has a significant illicit amphetamine type substance (ATS) manufacturing capacity,” the report said.

“A proxyvon tablet costs Rs.2 which is cheaper than cocaine. Addicts dissolve proxyvon in water and then use it intravenously. It dulls the nerves and gives addicts a kick,” S.I. Ahmed, a community healthcare worker in Assam, said.

“Excessive proxyvon usage can lead to ulcers which do not heal, and to even death.”

Indian intelligence officials say there are at least 90 methamphetamine production plants along the Thai-Myanmar border, of which 20 are located in the Sagaing division in Myanmar, adjacent to Manipur state.

A number of frontline Indian militant groups have bases inside Myanmar and operates in tandem with some ethnic rebel groups in the Kachin region. Experts say Myanmar’s military junta turns a blind eye to drug production and trafficking as a way of ensuring peace among ethnic minority groups, who have been restive for decades.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |

Subscribe