Ukhrul Takes Bold Steps in War Against Drugs: Volunteers Join Hands for Anti-Drug Campaign
Poppy Plantations at Ukhrul Hills

TMB Correspondent

Ukhrul: In an ambitious endeavor against opium poppy cultivation, Ukhrul has witnessed an unprecedented mobilization as volunteers embarked on a public movement to eradicate opium poppy plantations. The initiative, spearheaded by a collaboration of Tangkhul Frontal organizations, Tangkhul Churches, and Wung Tangkhul Region (WTR), has garnered significant support and fervent participation from community members and leaders alike.

On February 5th, two teams comprising 93 volunteers, including youth pastors, a youth chairman, members of UBC and UTBC church youths, along with volunteers from Tangkhul frontal organizations and other units, set out from UBC Church, Ukhrul. One team ventured towards Khamasom, while the other headed to Sanakeithei.

The campaign received a significant boost from Khashim Vashum, Minister for Veterinary & Animal Husbandry and Transport in the Government of Manipur, who provided financial assistance to support the mission.

“This is not an easy mission,” cautioned Wungnaoyung Sayai, CAO WTR, “Do not expect hospitality because there will be no one to serve you. Know that you have the support of the Tangkhul leaders, and churches. Go finish what you have set out to do,” he added. With a blessing from Rev. Remember Rimai, Pastor UBC, the teams embarked on their journey, driven by a shared commitment to eliminate the menace of drug cultivation from their land.

Reporting from the field, our reporter embedded with the team bound for Khamasom. Upon arrival in the afternoon, they swiftly proceeded to locate and destroy the opium poppy plantations, situated approximately two hours away from Khamasom village. The arduous journey involved navigating a partially black-topped road courtesy of PMJYS, transitioning into rugged off-road terrain tailored for heavy trucks.

By evening, the volunteers had already razed 4 hectares of opium poppy fields, toiling until dusk. The following day, their efforts intensified, culminating in the destruction of approximately 10 hectares of hillsides in the same vicinity. Simultaneously, another team targeted an additional 20 hectares in a separate location, an hour’s distance from the initial site.

Undeterred, the volunteers redirected their efforts towards the riverside in the subsequent two days, relentlessly clearing approximately 30 hectares in the surrounding areas between Khamasom and Sihai village.

Nimlei Khamrang, Assistant Pastor, Youth UBC Church, emphasized the illegality and moral reprehensibility of opium poppy cultivation, highlighting its adverse consequences on individuals and the environment. He lamented the loss of lives to drug addiction and underscored the detrimental impact on youths and future generations. Additionally, Khamrang lamented the depletion of the valuable Khamasom virgin forest due to poppy cultivation, stressing the need to safeguard resources and discourage illicit activities.

During the discussion about this mission, Sopem MK, a representative of Tangkhul Shanao Long, highlighted that around 100 individuals had volunteered for the campaign, a number notably inadequate considering the population of Ukhrul town and its vicinity. Emphasizing the gravity of the situation, MK stressed the imperative for more volunteers to join this pivotal endeavor, emphasizing its significance for future generations. With the pervasive issues of drug and alcohol abuse gripping our society, failure to act now could result in dire consequences down the line. MK underscored the urgency of dedicating time and energy to combat drug abuse and cultivation in our region.

“The effects of drugs are apparent in our society,” remarked Avysko, a youth member of UTBC, “We should discourage the plantation of opium poppy in our land as it will one day wipe out the future,” he emphasized, echoing the sentiment driving the community’s collective action against the drug menace.

Their mission, spanning several days, concluded on February 8th, as they returned home, while another team embarked on a similar mission, ensuring the continuity of the eradication campaign. According to the information received another 200 volunteers are ready to be dispatched.

As the battle against opium poppy cultivation rages on, the resolve and dedication of Ukhrul’s volunteers stand as a testament to their commitment to safeguarding the future against the perils of addiction and illicit drug trade.