As the November 7 Assembly elections approach, Mizoram grapples with a pressing issue of drug trafficking. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), striving for a more substantial presence after securing only one seat in 2018, is making a pivotal promise to create a drug-free Mizoram, if elected.
For decades, Mizoram is a dry State, cheap and easy availability of drugs. It has a wide impact on the society and the state has the highest percentage of drug addicts. Every year large number of young people die due to drug overdose.
BJP’s plans and commitments for Mizoram Elections
Tackling Drug Addiction: Operation Drug-Free Mizoram
Presenting their election manifesto, BJP chief JP Nadda announced a concerted effort, labeled as “operation drug-free Mizoram,” aimed at curbing the pervasive issue of drug addiction among the state’s youth. The drug problem in the state is dire, with a staggering 1,794 lives lost since 1980s. In the year 1984 alone, 58 lives have been claimed. The drugs originate in Myanmar and infiltrate India through the porous border the state shares with its eastern neighbor.
Combating Drug Addiction: ‘Operation Drug-Free Mizoram’
In their determined effort to combat drug addiction, the BJP introduces ‘Operation Drug-Free Mizoram.’ This targeted initiative encompasses a comprehensive strategy involving prevention, rehabilitation, and law enforcement measures. By mobilizing resources and coordinating efforts across various sectors, the BJP aims to create a conducive environment for individuals to overcome addiction and lead healthy, fulfilling lives.
Additionally, the party promises to set up a special investigation team to examine potential irregularities and corruption in the implementation of the Socio-Economic Development Programme. This commitment underscores the BJP’s dedication to transparent and accountable governance.
What are drugs related problems in Mizoram?
According to the official data of drug use in Mizoram, all districts report more than 90% people using tobacco and more than
80% using alcohol. Cannabis, opium, heroin, pharmaceutical opioids, sedatives and volatile solvents too are reported to be being used in all the eight districts of Mizoram.
By looking at the median age of addiction into various drugs shows a trend where the first drugs used by the respondents are usually tobacco and volatile solvents at the early age of 15 years.
They progressively move into alcohol and cannabis addiction within the next two years. By the time, they are 19 years old, they try out many other pharmaceutical opioids and within one year they experiment with injecting those lethal drugs.
While opium and sedatives are initiated at 20 years of age, heroin is introduced at a slightly older median age of 21 years. People who have used cocaine, ATS start off at 21 to 26 years respectively while hallucinogens are initiated at 18 years age.
Mizoram of Northeast India shares international border with Bangladesh and Myanmar and drugs often flow in and through along with people and goods. There is illegal trade of drugs across the borders. People in Mizoram have been known traditionally to use betel nut, tobacco, cannabis and country liquor.
Heroin was introduced to Mizoram in the early seventies. In the eighties use of drugs through the injecting route attained epidemic proportions. Along with injecting of drugs came the sharing of needles and syringes bringing about the dual epidemic of drug use and diseases like HIV, Hepatitis B, affecting the youths and those from the reproductive age groups more than others.
Attempts at curbing availability of heroin and its non-affordability among people who use it saw an increase in injecting prescription drugs such as dextropropoxyphene. This resulted in harmful effects like abscesses, non-healing ulcers, chronic life-threatening diseases and at times amputations. Recent evidence indicates an increasing trend particularly in the bordering areas and state capital Aizwal.
Assam Rifles, responsible for the state, has also highlighted the steady increase in smuggling of narcotics and contraband from Myanmar and the widespread drug use in the State. The effect of ‘golden triangle’ has made Mizoram drug addict state.
For any government to crack this illegal drug trade and make drug-free Mizoram have to work with the international countries to work collaboratively and solve this social issue.
As Mizoram stands on the cusp of the crucial November 7 Assembly elections, the BJP’s commitments reflect a concerted effort to address pressing issues and pave the way for a brighter future.
Solving the issue of drug in Mizoram can make the families who have lost their loved ones due to the addicts and youth well equipped with brighter future. To solve the social crises, huge steps are to be taken to curb the illicit drug trafficking along with better avenues for employment and social growth.
BJP’s political manifesto for Mizoram Assembly Election of 2023 has comprehensive plan to make the state a drug free. But it would be interesting to see what the people of the state wants. Who will the people elect as their representative?
Furthermore, the assembly elections scheduled on 7 November, is already bringing numerous changes like the voters’ lists do not consist of the name of people from the Bru community. This indicates complete exclusion of Bru refugees from Mizoram election for the first time.
The election results, slated for December 3, will provide the verdict on whether these promises translate into tangible progress for the state and its citizens.