Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday said an ‘Udta Assam’ has been in the making with the state headed towards a situation like that in Punjab as portrayed in the 2016 Bollywood hit ‘Udta Punjab’ and blamed northeast militant groups for the drug trade.
“We saw what the situation was like in Punjab in ‘Udta Punjab’ but unknown to us an ‘Udta Assam’ has been building up in the state,” he told the assembly during zero hour on the third day of the budget session while speaking on the ongoing war on drugs.
He said in the past two months alone, police have seized 27 kg heroin with an international market value of about Rs 50 crore. Besides, there have been large seizures of cannabis, opium, poppy straws, cough syrups, YABA and over 13 lakh World is Yours (WIY) tablets. There have been 1120 cases registered and 1897 people – mostly small-time peddlers-- arrested during this time.
The chief minister said drugs have been coming from Myanmar but the trade did not enjoy any official blessing and the matter has been taken up with the government of the neighbouring country. He said that northeast militant groups operating there have been involved in the drug trade. He, however, gave a clean chit to the Ulfa.
“The Ulfa is not involved in the drug trade. In fact, there have been some occasions when they have tipped off the state police about drugs arriving from that country,” he said. Sarma said the militant outfits use the drug peddlers to carry out various illegal activities like ferrying arms or fake currencies by luring them with drugs.
He said given the huge money involved in the drug business there will be attempts made to derail the ongoing operation. “People will try to create diversions by defaming and demoralising the police,” he said. He was referring to criticism of the police as “trigger happy” and the operation as “drama” following the recent spree of shootings targeting criminals, including drug peddlers. He said one person was killed and seven others were injured when they tried to escape from custody by even snatching firearms of the policemen. “They are desperate, they can do anything to escape,” he said.
The chief minister said he has asked the police department to change service rules to give promotions to personnel doing good work in dealing with the menace. “They must be encouraged and if they work well this problem can end in the next two-three years,” he said.
He said the seized contraband will be put to fire on July 17 and 18 to send out a message that this government means business. “We will hold back only samples for legal purposes,” he said.