NEW DELHI: Security agencies have alerted government of an increasing and alarming trend of opium addiction amongst the tribal border population of Arunachal Pradesh which stands to threaten "national security" in this area, already prone to insurgency and incursion attempts from neighbouring countries.
Narcotics enforcement and intelligence agencies keeping a tab on the activities of illegal drugs in the eastern border areas of the country have recently shared a detailed report in this regard with the Union Home Ministry underlining the fact that the menace may put under threat "the very existence" of the tribal population of the state.
A report by the Central Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), accessed by PTI, states that "large tracts in this state are now being cultivated commercially by the rich and influential people for extraction of opium gum and trafficking of the same." It cautioned that if the worrying trend is not checked promptly, "the situation may take a serious turn not only affecting national security" but also having an adverse impact on the health and existence of the various tribes inhabiting the remote and inaccessible areas of Arunachal Pradesh.
The report adds that during a recent visit of security and anti-narcotic sleuths to the border areas of this state, it was noticed "that such (opium) cultivation has led to opium addiction among the tribal population."
Security agencies reported that such a development in the border districts was alarming as their location was "quite sensitive" owing to their geographical closeness to India's borders with Myanmar and China.
Sources privy to the development said that while there was a widespread illegal cultivation of poppy since many years in districts like Tirap, Changlang, Lohit and Upper Siang of the border state for usage in medicine and for religious purposes, the last five years have seen this menace spreading to other untouched areas giving rise to drug addiction amongst the locals especially the tribal folk who do not have access to education and welfare policies of the government.
The agencies told the Home Ministry in their latest report that opium and heroin addiction has spread to areas like Roing in the Lower Dibang valley and this trend was now threatening the existence and healthy lifestyle of the local tribals.
The report seeks a quick intervention of the central and the state government as there are "no government treatment and de-addiction centres" in these areas to treat the addicts, thereby, further aggravating the situation.