[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

Indo-Burma border news (r)

Junta cracks down on drug trafficking with India
Namphalong (Burma), Oct. 26: Thirty nine-year-old Khangebam 
Rajesh has been lucky. Arrested by the Burmese police on March 11, 
1996 at Namphalong for smuggling items used to manufacture drugs, 
he was released recently after the military court in Burma found him 
not guilty. However two other Meitei (Manipuri) smuggling in there
arrested with him, were sentenced to 70 year of imprisonment each. 
These men were arrested in December 1995 and are now serving 
sentence at Rangoon Jail. Burma's military junta, the State law and 
Order Restoration Council, has initiated various measures to contain 
the drug menace in the country following international pressure to curb 
drug production and trafficking along the border. 
Burma produced 250 Mt of heroin in 1996. Fifteen per cent of this 
was exported to India through the border town of Moreh. 
An SLORC official told the Asian Age, that Rajesh, who was 
arrested on drug-related charges, was 
released on Tuesday. He was handed over to Indian officials at the 
Moreh Gate No. 2. Two others, Manu Nepali, 19, and Man Bahadur, 
23, were also arrested with Rajesh and the fate of these two prisoners is 
still unknown. According to the official, SLORC is making all efforts 
to prevent smuggling as well as preparation of heroin from poppy 
The smuggling of poppy seed, among other things, has increased 
ever since trade along the border town was closed due to arson in 
Namphalong market. Freedom did not come easy to Rajsh. His trial 
was an extended one and he was lodged at the Tamu police station in 
Burma. Tamu is a Burmese township about four kms from Moreh. 
Talking to the Asian Age, about his experience in the lockup, Rajesh 
said: "while I was in prison, there persons, including a woman 
Majannu, arrested by the Burmese police on charges of drug 
smuggling, died in custody.
" According to Rajesh, extreme torture and 
malnutrition led to the death of these prisoners. "SLORC authorities 
only provided a bowl of rice per day to persons in police custody in all 
Burmese police station," he said. About 15 Indians arrested from 
different places along the Indo-Burma border are now in different jails 
in Burma at present. Rajesh, who is also fluent in Burmese, said: "Most 
of those arrested are currently lodged in prisons in Rangoon, Mandalay, 
Monywa and Kalemyo. There are as many as four Manipuris in Rangoon 
Jail at present". Three Manipuri youths were recently released but their 
trucks were impounded by Burmese authorities. The youths ran a teak 
business along the Indo-Burma border. Illegal felling of teak is an 
offence in Burma. 
SLORC authorities are just as concerned about teak 
felling and smuggling as they are about drugs. As of now, while many 
that were arrested with him have either been sentenced for life or have 
died unable to bear the rigours of prison life, Rajesh wants to start life 
afresh. For Rajesh, a resident of Moreh, business is the only means of 
livelihood like everyone else in the town. After his release, he intends 
to set up his own business. He was however, not sure what trade he 
would eventually opt for.                               
The Northeast Age