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Bangladeshi druglords cultivate cannabis in Assam's char land
December, 16th 2011

A host of Bangladeshi druglords are using the rich soil of char areas (riverine) of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries in lower Assam to cultivate cannabis (ganja).

The final produce is taken back to Bangladesh and marketed there.

A senior customs official, who led a drive to raid and destroy ready-to-be-harvested cannabis in Barepta district on Wednesday, said, "We did not find any of the growers. There were just palatial houses in the middle of a vast cultivation of cannabis. But our intelligence wing has found the trail leads to Bangladesh. Many druglords from Bangladesh are not just investing in cannabis cultivation here, they are also encouraging locals to shift from traditional vegetable farming and to the more lucrative cannabis cultivation."

The official said locals have also given information about the presence of unknown faces, suspected to be from Bangladesh, in the farming areas before the cultivation and at the time of harvesting. "The produce is not sold here but taken back to Bangladesh through the river system and land routes," the official said.

The BSF also confirmed seizing large quantities of ganja while it was being smuggled into Bangladesh.

Commissioner of the Shillong-based Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, NE region, B Thamar, said, "On Thursday we destroyed illicit cannabis cultivation grown in vast areas of Kamarpara, Fakirpara, Naleswar under Alupatichar and Baghbor police stations in Barepta district. The destruction operation was carried out at the right time as the cannabis plants were ready for harvesting. The value of the fully grown cannabis plants grown on 35 bighas, including semi-dry ganja, is estimated at Rs 1 crore."

A customs department source who was part of the raiding team said, "We cut down the plants and uprooted them before spraying diesel and kerosene to burn them."

The customs department has been carrying out this destruction operation since 2009 and every time the druglords' men have managed to escape before the raid.

"Similar destruction drives have been carried out in previous years and this year it was seen that the growers have shifted to newer places, in more remote areas. We had to walk several kilometres and cross rivulets, using motorcylces and tractors to reach the cultivated areas."

Cannabis is used in India for recreational use but its cultivation and dealing in cannabis in any form is prohibited under the provisions of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

The customs department is now carrying out awareness drive among the char dwellers to say no to the Bangladesh druglords inciting them to grow cannabis.

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