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At Rs 70 cr per year,opium is Naxal cash crop

Even as the Bihar Police step up operations to choke Naxal revenue,Intelligence sources claim the ultras have been making over Rs 70 crore per year only from opium cultivation in the “red zone”....

Even as the Bihar Police step up operations to choke Naxal revenue,Intelligence sources claim the ultras have been making over Rs 70 crore per year only from opium cultivation in the “red zone” — Aurangabad,Nawada,Gaya,Jamui in Bihar and Chatra and Palamau in Jharkhand — where poor farmers are being forced to grow the banned substance,used to make expensive spurious drugs.

According to sources,Bihar Jharkhand Special Area Committee (BJSAC) of the outlawed CPI (Maoist) gets an annual revenue of around Rs 300 crore,coming mostly from levy collection.

The Bihar Police,which recently raided opium fields at two places in Nawada and Aurangabad districts,conceded that “opium cultivation is a good source of revenue for the ultras”. As most of opium cultivation takes place on forest land and in hilly areas,it is not easily tracked during normal police patrolling. Opium is harvested around this time of the year.

The Naxals generally force or influence poor farmers to grow the banned substance. It is a deliberate ploy by the ultras as when the cultivation is detected,it is the farmers who face arrests. Though farmers would concede they grow opium for the “party” (ultras),they seldom identify the Maoists,said police sources. While a kilogram of opium sells fro nearly Rs 1.5 lakh,heroin produced from it is worth Rs 1.5 crore in the international market.

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The Aurangabad Police recently destroyed opium crop on about one acre land at Kapasia village under Muffasil police station. Two farmers were arrested for the cultivation but none identified the ultras who had asked them to grow the banned substance. Sources claim opium is grown along Sone river in Navinagar and Barul blocks of Aurangabad.

Aurangabad SP Nishant Kumar Tiwari said: “As opium is grown in areas adjoining Naxal hubs,we assume the ultras are getting it cultivated. Opium is definitely a good source of Naxal revenue.”

The SP said the police are using satellite imaging to pin-point the exact location where opium is grown. “We get a different colour for opium crops in satellite images. No Maoist,however,has been arrested so far as the villagers do not divulge details,” said Tewari.

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A fortnight ago,the Nawada Police seized two trucks loaded with harvested opium crop grown at Harkhar village along Nawada-Jamui border. No one,however,could be arrested for the crop seizure.

Bihar DGP Neelmani conceded that opium was a regular source of Naxal revenue and said the state needed more of forces with specialised training to choke this source of income for the ultras.

First published on: 25-03-2010 at 12:24:01 am
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