Drought, drug prohibition,
and simmering lawlessness in the northeastern Indian state of Jharkhand
are combining in an all too familiar pattern as hard-pressed farmers team
up with guerrilla fighters in what looks to be a burgeoning opium trade.
According to reports from the Indo-Asian News Service, local officials
in Jharkand are complaining that farmers are growing opium and selling
it to Maoist guerrillas who smuggle it across the northern border into
Nepal and Bhutan. The farmers make enough to put food on the table,
and the guerrillas make enough to help finance their long-running insurgency.
"There are reports that the
opium is grown by the farmers with the help of Maoist guerrillas.
The farmer grows the opium inside wheat fields so that the police cannot
trace it," Chatra district Police Superintendent Shashinath Jha told IANS.
Police have identified opium growing in at least two of the state's 16
districts, but think there is much more being cultivated, said Jha.
"These areas are only the tip of the iceberg. There are possibilities
that opium is grown at large scale in other parts of the state. And
the real beneficiary is the Maoist guerrillas who profit from the drug
peddlers," he said. "Opium cultivation is changing the life of farmers
here as they are get hefty returns and it is helps Maoists to generate
revenue for seditious activities," he said.
|trader's opium, outside Jalalabad, Afghanistan,
photo by Drug War Chronicle editor Phil Smith
The Maoists are the Communist
Party of India-Maoist and their Peoples Liberation Guerrilla Army,
who seek a classic Mao-style protracted guerrilla war resulting in a communist
revolution. They operate in at least 13 Indian states, have contacts
with Maoist guerrillas in Nepal, and are seeking to create a "Compact Revolutionary
Zone" running from Bihar and Jharkhand states in the northeast through
the Dandakaranya forests of Central Indian and down to Andhra Pradesh in
"The Nepal border of Bihar
is transit point for the drug peddlers," said Jha. "The Maoists provide
a safe passage to drug peddlers. The opium grown in Jharkhand is
supplied to Bihar and then reaches Nepal to other destinations," he added.
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