Minors team up with ganja mafia for school fees

Nestled in the dense forests 50 km away from the Paderu mandal headquarters are several tribal hamlets. 

Published: 21st September 2017 02:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st September 2017 07:16 AM   |  A+A-

Workers hired by Excise officials destroy ganja farms in interior areas of Paderu mandal in Visakhapatnam agency on Wednesday | Express

Express News Service

VISAKHAPATNAM:  Nestled in the dense forests 50 km away from the Paderu mandal headquarters are several tribal hamlets. Many houses here sport DTH antennas and the village youth are seen fiddling with the latest models of cellphones. The hamlets which don’t even have motorable roads have seen money flowing in for the last several years through dishonourable means. On Wednesday, the enforcement Wing destroyed around 57 acres of ganja plantations in the villages of Paderu and Pedabayalu mandals.  The wing only recently nabbed a ganja smuggler. During interrogation, he confessed that his son too was working as a pilot for the smugglers. Pilots alert mafia members of police presence on the smuggling route. 

When asked how he could involve his school-going son in criminal activities, the accused replied that unless he did so, he would have to stop his son’s studies. “The man said he did not have money. So he asked his son to work as a pilot for smuggling gangs and pay the school fees,” a senior Excise official told TNIE.Smuggling of the contraband has become a major source of employment not only for the men in the area, but also school and college students in the interior tribal hamlets of Visakhapatnam Agency. “The government talks big about alternative employment, NREGS work and promises several development projects for tribals, but only a few projects take off. Lack of adequate works and government support is making tribals fall prey to the bait of easy money that the ganja trade offers,” said a resident of Urugonda, a tribal hamlet in Paderu mandal.  

Most of the tribal farmers are funded by ganja smugglers to grow the contraband and many are paid a daily wage of `100 to `200 for working in illegal ganja farms. Further, a few farmers rent out their crop fields on yearly basis to the smugglers, where the kingpins use their local supporters to cultivate ganja. 
The shocking fact is many youngsters, even school-going teenagers are being roped into the business.
“A few smugglers came to our village a few months ago. They offered us `200 per day to spray pesticides in the ganja fields,” said Eswar (name changed), a 16-year old from Urugonda. 
The smugglers also lure them to work as ganja couriers by offering them bikes and smartphones, he added.
The kingpins also offer good money to tribal farmers for renting out their farmland. 


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