15 Jan : Ever wondered how the naxals get the money to procure latest arms and sustain their growing cadre? The answer lies in the obscure world of illicit cultivation of narcotic substances.
Sources in the country’s anti-narcotic agencies say large scale illegal cultivation of opium and ganja takes place in naxal-affected areas especially in states such as Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
At places where the naxals do not directly get involved in the illicit cultivation, they charge money for providing protection to those involved in the practice."Illicit cultivation does take place especially in those areas where the local administration is not strong enough. Three main states where it takes place as per the inputs that we receive are Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal," a senior official of Narcotics Control Bureau said.
He said the other states where such cultivation takes place include Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Chhattisgarh besides some states from south India.
"The naxals and certain insurgent groups in North-East thrive on the money earned from illicit cultivation other than that earned through extortion, kidnapping and other criminal activities," the official said.
Of the total 1,07,825 kg of ganja or marijuana seized in the country in 2007, the states where it was seized in heavy quantity included Nagaland (15,489 kg), Madhya Pradesh (14,815 kg), Maharashtra (12,551 kg), Chhattisgarh (7,470 kg) and Andhra Pradesh (7,059 kg).
"All these states are either facing the menace of naxalism or insurgents in certain parts," the official pointed out.As per Union Home Ministry reports, naxalism is slowly spreading its wings across the country.
In the recently held chief ministers’ conference on internal security, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had termed naxalism as one of the three main challenges faced by the country.
Senior officials who are involved in various anti-naxal operations too say that narcotics are a source of income for the naxals."They (naxals) operate in very remote areas which usually have thick forests. What happens inside those forests is anybody’s guess. But yes, they do charge protection money of all illegal business carried out in their areas," a senior official said.
When asked, a senior anti-narcotics official said, "Narcotics business is highly profitable. Since the areas where the naxals and insurgents operate from are usually out of bounds for local police and other security agencies, it is difficult to curtail this source of income."