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North Lakhimpur: The recent arrest of two drug peddlers in Laluk in North Assam’s Lakhimpur district may seem to be a regular police operation against petty criminals. But the arrest of peddlers Abul Hussain and Imran Hussain in Puja Bari, Laluk with 13 grams of suspected heroin hidden inside a scooter is more than being an isolated crime. Their arrest has brought to light the expansion of drug trafficking in the Northeast in areas of Lakhimpur district which has been infamous for some typical illicit activities.

On April 20, 2021, Laluk Police arrested two drug peddlers–Dayamanti Doley and Hirannya Doley from Harmutty Bazaar and recovered heroin weighing 76.7 grams. This was followed by the arrest of three drugs peddlers—Mustafuzur Hussain, Azizur Rahman and Riazuddin Ahmed–in Dharmapur village in Laluk on May 6, 2021, and seized an Alto car.

Police arrested two drug peddlers with the help of local villagers in No. 3 Dharmapur village in Laluk when their vehicle met with an accident on July 7, 2021. The arrested peddlers were Kamaluddin and Rashidul Islam. Kamaluddin was earlier arrested on the same grounds from his home in Fatehpur but he escaped from police custody.

On August 15, 2021, Laluk Police arrested two drug peddlers from Lahorighat in Nagaon district—Fakrul Islam and Abdul Wahid from No. 2 Kehutoli village in Laluk. Heroine weighing 18 grams was recovered from them along with a Hyundai sedan. This year on January 18, police with the help of some alert villagers recovered a huge amount of drugs from the residence of one Ikramul Islam in Daulatpur under Laluk Police Station. The accused evaded arrest.

These areas in the Lakhimpur district with drugs peddling under Laluk and Bihpuria Police Station were infamous for fake gold artifacts and counterfeit currencies till recently. This typical trade of fake gold artifacts was characterized by small statues of Jesus Christ and boat-shaped objects. Similarly in the counterfeiting trade, the common objects for sale were “note minting printers” with grotesque switches and blinking lights. 

However, a sustained media campaign and police operations led to continued arrests which have forced these activities to withdraw from the area. Now it appears that the fake gold artifacts and counterfeit currency trade from Lakhimpur of the same shape and object are gaining momentum in middle and lower Assam with reports of recovery of the same goods in those districts. For example recently on March 21 police arrested six persons with the same fake gold artifact near Rangiya Railway station. All the arrested persons were from Lakhimpur.

But the crime of fake gold and counterfeit currency is being replaced by drug peddling of a wider dimension. This apparent exchange of illicit trade may be run by the same criminal network that is active throughout the Northeast.   

The inter-state border areas of Lakhimpur district—Pathalipahar-Banderdewa-Parbatipur-Harmutty have been hotspots of all types of narcotics and contraband for a long period. Though there are arrests and recovery of substances, the illicit trade remains unabated. Recently on March 11, two drug peddlers from Nagaon Abdul Jabbar and Zakir Hussain were shot in Parbatipur in Banderdewa by Lakhimpur Police while they tried to escape in an operation.

One of the arrested peddlers said before the camera that they carried the substances from Nagaon which had originated from Dimapur, Nagaland. On December 31, 2021, two drugs peddlers from Parbatipur–Azizur Rahman and Shahidul Ali were shot when they tried to “escape” the police after being arrested. 

The infamous drug peddling in Harmutty-Banderdewa areas of the district continued even during the Covid-19 lockdown period of 2020 when petty criminals and jobless workers were lured to participate in that trade. The expansion of drug peddling from the inter-state border areas to the interiors of the Lakhimpur district with a long history of fake gold and counterfeiting currency trade is a new concern for the public. The purported construction and maintenance of the status quo of illicit trade activities in these areas of the district, predominantly inhabited by religious minorities is another peculiar phenomenon of this problem.  

Farhana Ahmed

Farhana Ahmed is Northeast Now Correspondent in North Lakhimpur. She can be reached at: farhana.ahmed777@gmail.com