Drugs, foreign cigarettes seized in Meghalaya, Mizoram; 5 held

Aizawl/Shillong/Guwahati, Sep 8 (IANS) Drugs and foreign origin cigarettes, valued at Rs 3.78 crore, were seized in three different cases in Meghalaya and Mizoram and five people, including a woman, apprehended, officials said on Monday.

Security officials suspect that the drugs and the cigarettes were smuggled from Myanmar, which shares a 1,640-km unfenced border with four northeastern Indian states — Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.

Acting on a secret information, Meghalaya Police had intercepted a Tripura-bound truck, coming from Assam, at Shillong Bypass on Sunday night and seized 5.08 kg of Yaba tablets (Methamphetamine tablets) valued at around Rs 2 crore from the vehicle.

East Khasi Hills district’s Superintendent of Police Silvester Nongtnger told IANS over phone that the 31-year-old truck driver, a resident of North Tripura district, has been arrested and now being interrogated.

He said that in another incident, three persons, including a woman, were arrested and 0.65 gm of heroin seized from their possession.

All the four were charged under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

In another development, in the second such case in a week’s time, 100 cartons of smuggled foreign cigarettes, valued at Rs 1.30 crore, were seized by Assam Rifles troopers in Mizoram’s border Champhai district.

An Assam Rifles official said that acting on a tip-off, troopers of the central paramilitary force’s 23 Sector raided some houses and makeshift structures at Zokhawthar area in Champhai late on Sunday evening and recovered the cigarettes, smuggled from neighbouring Myanmar.

An Assam Rifles release said that a resident of Aizawl was detained in the operation and the contraband and the detainee were handed over to Custom Preventive Force for further investigations and prosecution.

A total of 75 boxes of foreign cigarettes worth around Rs 1 crore were seized by Assam Rifles in the Champhai district bordering Myanmar on August 31.

“Ongoing illegal drug trades are a major cause of concern for the state of Mizoram,” the release said.

Although Mizoram’s international border with Bangladesh (318 km) and Myanmar (404 km)and inter-state borders with Tripura, Assam and Manipur are sealed in view of the Covid-19 outbreak, smuggling of various drugs, arms and ammunition and other contraband is still going on.

While the Border Security Foces guards the Bangladesh border, the border with Myanmar is looked after by the Assam Rifles and it has seized drugs and other contraband including heroin worth around Rs 29 crore since July 1 after these were smuggled from the neighbouring country.

Meanwhile, industry body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) said that the Assam Rifles, during its recent successful interception, seized illicit cigarettes, smuggled from neighbouring Myanmar, worth Rs 14 crore.

It said that the recent rise in smuggling in the northeastern region can be attributed to economic distress insinuated by Covid-19 pandemic.

“Loss of jobs and lack of income due to recurrent lockdowns have left citizens without a means of livelihood. Reports suggest that smugglers and insurgents are using people from the local tribal areas to transport smuggled goods by taking advantage of their financial vulnerability caused due to Covid-19,” a FICCI report said.

The FICCI’s Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy (CASCADE), headed by Anil Rajput, highly appreciated the efforts of Assam Rifles and praised its Director General along with other officers for their anti-smuggling operations.

–IANS

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