IMPHAL: The students’ bodies comprising of All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU), Manipuri Students Federation (MSF), Democratic Students’ Alliance of Manipur (DESAM), Kangleipak Student Association (KSA), Students’ Union of Kangleipak (SUK) and Apunba Ireipakki Maheiroi Sinpanglup (AIMS) have submitted a letter to the Principal Secretary (Social Welfare) with suggestions on the draft Manipur State Policy on Substance Use, 2019 and expressed outrage at the growing menace of drugs which is engulfing the youth of Manipur today.
In a letter, it stated that it is a matter of great shame that even during the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown reports of major drug haul originating from Manipur are streaming out depressing regularity. It is heartening to learn that the Manipur Government is drafting a drug policy in the name and style of Manipur State Policy on Substance Use, 2019. However, the students’ bodies are appalled by the total lack of seriousness on the issue of Supply Reduction. The joint students’ bodies undersigned by its respective six leaders fully endorsed the submission made by CSOs of Manipur submitted to the Commissioner (SW) on September 7, 2020 received no. 36. and reiterated the following demands:
The following demands are namely, Manipur government should frame clear rules under the Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substance Act (NDPS), 1985 in the form of Manipur Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substance Rules; the investigation of drug haul of large commercial quantity of drugs, worth more than one crore rupees in the international market, especially those involving the politically influential person/entity of the state must be handed over to an independent agency which is immune to political pressure such as NCB, CBI or NIA and that the trial of such cases should be closely monitored by the High Court of Manipur; to monitor the overall “supply reduction program by constituting a Commission/Committee of various stakeholders including the Home Department, NCB, NG0s, CBOs, CsOs and individual experts, under article 2.8 of the present draft policy.
They further demanded strict implementation of sections 46 (duty of land owner to inform the authority of illegal poppy cultivation) and 47 (duty of certain officers to inform the authority) under NDPS Act, 1985; incentive in the form of award should be instituted for individuals informing the authority of illegal poppy cultivation and due protection should also be provided to such individuals from reprisal by drug cartels.
It was further mentioned that the financial investigation should be mandatory in every investigation of drug haul in line with section 68 (j) of NDPS Act; Specific time frame should be given for submission of expert opinion (FSL report) in cases related to drug haul and the Government of Manipur should initiate to set up model drug free villages in line with objective no. 2.1 of the present draft policy.
The letter further mentioned that, notwithstanding the above the stated common CSO demands, the student bodies reiterated that the overwhelming majority of the substance use in Manipur started amongst the children and young people in schools, colleges and boarding centres. It is therefore imperative to tackle the problem in these sectors.
“We therefore make the following demands to be reflected in the policy: The present draft policy, in article 11.1 to 11.10 dealing with prevention strategy, is conspicuous by the exclusion of active student union and associations of Manipur. This should be rectified forthwith, as no drug policy would succeed without active involvement of these key stakeholders. Every private as well as government schools, colleges and universities should have counselling units, it should be mandatory and not optional as reflected in article 11.7 of the present draft. Further, the proposed “Boarding /Hotel Regulation and Registration Act” that the student bodies have been demanding should also address the issue of substance use by ensuring that the administration provides adequate access to confidential counselling facilities of the inmates who are initiated into Substance use.
In line with sections 46 (duty of land owner to inform the authority of illegal poppy cultivation) and 47 (duty of certain officers to inform the authority) under NDPS Act, 1985, the drug policy should fix the responsibility to the head of the educational institution / boarding facilities to inform the concerned authority if the student/ wards/ inmates under the custody have initiated substance use.
In dealing with preventive measures, human rights of the children and young persons should be safeguarded in the best interest of the child in line with the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child, 1989 and in no circumstance should their right to education be denied.