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Tripura feeds B’desh drug demand
Published on 25 May. 2011 11:33 PM IST
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When it comes to narcotics, no amount of laws seems to be enough to reign in the production and distribution (read smuggling) of banned substances.
According to Times of India, large parts of Bangladesh and Myanmar are emerging as drug consuming zones, and bordering areas of Tripura are contributing to the fast-emerging drugs market.
While hundreds of smugglers based in Tripura are sending spurious Phensedyl, a cough syrup, with an exceedingly high dose of codeine and other drugs to Bangladesh virtually by the truckload, hundreds of acres of remote land in West Tripura have become sprawling ganja plantations.
Phensedyl is extremely popular in Bangladesh where liquor consumption is banned. Taking advantage of the situation, some unscrupulous traders of Tripura are smuggling the cough syrup across the border. And it earns huge money. While one 100 ml bottle of Phensedyl would cost around Rs 100 in India, it would be sold for three times as much in Bangladesh.
“We are well aware of the situation and the police often detain vehicles and seize thousands of bottles of Phensedyl consignments that are not used in Tripura. But, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The network is very deep-rooted and widespread. The Phensedyl smuggling would, in future, become a major deterrent to better Indo-Bangla relations,” said a government official. The official did not want to be named, but added already at diplomatic levels in Dhaka, serious concern has been raised over the smuggling of cough syrup to their country from India.
“Whenever we visit Bangladesh, intellectuals, writers and cultural activists also raise the same issue in our informal talks,” said Ratul Debbarma, an eminent poet of Tripura.
The drug demand in Bangladesh has not only given rise to Phensedyl smuggling; hundreds of farmers have discarded their traditional crops and are now engaged in ganja cultivation in West Tripura district. “Hundreds of acres in Konaban, Madhupur, Boxanagar and some parts of Kalamchoura have turned into ganja gardens. The police and BSF regularly conduct raids and destroy the plantations, but they come up again,” said a police official.
Ganja also fetches huge money when smuggled to Bangladesh. “While the market price of 1 kg of good quality ganja is about Rs 2,000 in India, it is about Rs 5,000-7,000 in Bangladesh,” the officer added. There have also been incidents when senior police officials, including SP rank officers, were attacked by ganja farmers when they went to destroy the plantations.
Cough syrups and ganja are not the only drugs being in demand in the neighbouring country.
Of late, Bangladesh has also become the favoured destination for yaba pills, popularly known as ‘Nazi speed’ or ‘Bhool Bhulaiya’ tablets. Yaba is a brightly-coloured tablet made of methamphetamine and caffeine. It is also called ‘Nazi speed’ for its massive use by the German military during the Second World War.
Only on last May 19, Bangladesh police seized yaba tablets of Bangladeshi Taka 20 million from Cox’s bazaar near the Myanmar border. In fact, over the last few months there have been regular seizures of yaba tablets, mostly at Teknaf on the Myanmar border. It is suspected that tablets were brought from Myanmar by some Bangladeshi drugs syndicate, the report said.
Parts of Bangladesh adjoining Myanmar are also steadily transforming into an opium haven with poppy fields coming up in large tracts of land in remote areas. This poses a serious threat to the security of the NE, as most of the poppy fields used to produce opium and heroin are directly funded and used by Myanmarese insurgent groups.
Intelligence sources said Bandarban in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh has virtually become a small Afghanistan with poppy fields coming up in acres of sprawling land. Most of the poppy fields have come up in extremely remote areas near the Myanmar border including Remacry in Tanchhi Upazila Karaikashan, Ivaanman Jhiri, Bhalupara etc.
Earlier, in 2010, the Bangladesh army, in an aggressive campaign, destroyed 122 poppy gardens. On July 29, 2010, security forces in Bandarban of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh had burnt down about 20 acres of poppy fields in Sangu reserved area, Ruma, Alikadam and Thanchi security zones of Bandarban hill district.
In these places, they also recovered firearms, ostensibly hidden by the militants who make regular cross-border movements.
Intelligence officials said some Myanmarese militant groups like Arakan Liberation Party are using Mru tribesmen and local populace of the area to cultivate poppy. Since the early part of 2008, Bangladesh security forces destroyed about 35 poppy fields on 100 acres of land. The fields were owned by the insurgents.

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