Ganja or cannabis cultivators allegedly attacked a team of Tripura Police, Border Security Force (BSF), anti-narcotics cell and local administration when the latter arrived to destroy illegal ganja plantations at Sonamura in Sipahijala district, 50 km from here, on Friday. Officials said they resorted to lathicharge and hurled tear gas shells to disperse the angry mob and also burnt down ganja worth over Rs. 1 crore.
Matinagar, Kalamchowra, Ghatigira, Boxanagar and a few other villages of the district are often dubbed as cannabis villages for their plantations of the illegal drug.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Sonamura Sub Divisional Police Officer Banik Biplab Das said that an unruly crowd of 150 villagers tried to block the security personnel.
“We faced some resistance from local villagers who launched an attack on us to prevent us from destroying cannabis plantations. We dispersed the mob by mild lathi charge and used tear gas shells, stun grenades, etc,” the official said.
Police said they destroyed over 2 lakh cannabis plants in 25 locations spread across several villages in the area with an estimated market value over Rs. 1 crore.
Cannabis seizures have shot up since the BJP-IPFT combine formed government in March, 2018. Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb took charge of ‘Nasha Mukt Tripura Abhiyan’ and blamed erstwhile ruler CPI (M) for promoting illegal drug trade and cannabis cultivation.
In 2018, BSF jawans had secured Rs. 32.92 crore worth smuggled items from Tripura’s borders this year. This includes Rs. 4.86 crore worth cannabis, Rs. 17.57 worth of yaba tablets or ‘meth’ among other categories. Tripura shares 856 km long international border with Bangladesh, out of 67.3 km is still unfenced in different patches.
While the crackdown against cannabis is on the rise, seizure figures in the Bangladesh border have recently shown a slowdown for cannabis.
While Rs 11.14 crore worth ganja was recovered during raids and operations in 2018, the figures were down to Rs 4.86 crore in 2019. Instead, yaba seizure has shot up to Rs. 17.57 crores in 2019, double the seizure figures from 2018.
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