Tripura chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb

Tripura chief minister Biplab Deb, often in news for wrong reasons , is pushing ahead with his offensive against drugs since he took charge in March last year.

This week, the state police destroyed cannabis worth Rs four crores.

The consignment worth Rs one crore seized from Jirania and Agartala airport police stations was destroyed on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, a consignment worth Rs three crores seized from North Tripura was destroyed in Bodhjungnagar industrial area with much fanfare.

The consignment weighed 5957 kgs and was on its way in trucks to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Tripura police DG A K Shukla ,who has closely supervised the relentless offensive against drugs , told media persons, “Since the new government came to power in Tripura 11 months back, we launched a massive drive against all sorts of narcotics drugs. It is part of chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb’s vision of a drug-free Tripura.”

Shukla claimed much success in the drive, reporting a seizure of 67,761 kg of cannabis , 283994 Myanmar made Yaba tablets, 141916 bottles of cough syrup Phensydyl , 4573 gram of heroin.

He said 672 persons have been arrested for drug peddling .

The cough syrup is peddled into Bangladesh while the Burmese Yaba tablets come to Tripura from Bangladesh.

Yaba is Burmese rendering of amphetamine and the tablets are mostly manufactured in Myanmar’s Wa dominated region. Myanmar watcher Andrew Marshall has described the Yaba as ‘Speed Tribe’ , as Yaba is called speed in the West.

Tripura had not only emerged as a key area for cannabis cultivation during the long two decades of Left rule but also become the key route for the two way drug trade – of cough syrup into Bangladesh and Yaba from there.

Bangladesh’s Sheikh Hasina government also launched a fierce anti-drug drive last summer.

Nearly 100 alleged drug dealers were killed and more than 7000 alleged peddlers were arrested with millions of Yaba tablets , heroine and cough syrup bottles.

Western human rights groups and Hasina’s domestic detractors , however, blamed the government of eliminating political opponents under cover of the anti-drug offensive.

One Awami League MP from Cox’s Bazar Abdul Rahman Badi fled the country in June but the party gave nomination of his wife after forced to drop him fror alleged links to drug trafficking.

Tripura, a small 10039 sq kms state, is encircled on three sides by Bangladesh and is three hours by train from its capital Dhaka and main port city Chittagong.

Biplab Deb enjoys close relations with Sheikh Hasina and his anti-drug offensive seems modelled on the Bangladesh campaign, though much less ruthless.

Deb blames his Left predecessors for allowing Tripura to become a haven for drugs.

“Failing to generate employment, the Left allowed our state to become a drug-dependent economy. The drug mafia funded the Left , farmers shifted to cultivation of cannabis and youngmen took to drug peddling . I will not allow that to continue ,” Biplab Deb was quoted as saying.

The chief minister said his government would push farmers with incentives to return to gainful cultivation of cash crops and get the youth to seek work in self help schemes, specially dairy , poultry , pisciculture and animal husbandry.

Subir Bhaumik

Subir Bhaumik is a Kolkata-based senior journalist. He can be reached at: sbhaum@gmail.com

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