A trio of armed separatist groups in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur are threatening to kill drug traffickers and tobacco dealers and shoot liquor sellers in the leg, the Indo-Asian News Service reported Thursday. The threat came in a joint statement from the outlawed United National Liberation Front (UNLF), the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), and the People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK).
According to the statement, the sale and use of heroin, opium, something called "Spasmo Provyvon tablets," and tobacco products will be banned effective September 15. There is an exception for home-brewed liquor used for religious purposes.
"Drug traffickers would face capital punishment without any trial and anyone found guilty of selling liquor would get a bullet in the leg," the rebel statement warned. "Drug abuse has only compounded the problem of HIV/AIDS but also taken a heavy toll on the mental and physical health of the youths," the statement said.
The state of Manipur -- population 2.4 million -- borders Myanmar (Burma) and along with much of India's northeast, which abuts Southeast Asia's opium-producing "golden triangle," has a serious injection heroin problem, the news agency reported. Up to 100,000 intravenous drugs users live in Manipur, many of them believed to be HIV positive.
The three separatist groups want independent homelands for the majority Metei community who inhabit the central valley of Manipur, but who are engaged in endemic conflict with their highland neighbors the Naga. They are but three of at least 19 rebel groups in the state seeking everything from greater autonomy from the central government to outright secession. More than 10,000 people have been killed in the fighting in the past two decades, the news agency said.
While this statement marks the first formal campaign against drug traffickers by the rebel groups, at least a dozen have already been killed in Manipur and more have been shot in the legs for "failing to reform." The moralistic rebels are big on that. They also shot 10 people in the leg last year for helping students cheat on college exams.