Assam Rifles has been in the service of the North- eastern states since its inception around 250 years ago. A true paramilitary service, officered by Indian Army officers, it consists of ‘sons of soil’ and is therefore fully integrated with the local population. As a result, Assam Rifles personnel are fully aware of the minutest issues plaguing each state.
Mizoram has been in the vice-like grip of drug menace since 1984. A total of 1578 people have died due to drug abuse since. In 2019 alone, 54 people have died. Drugs have hollowed out the youth of the state either directly through consumption or indirectly through thefts, robberies and crimes. Total of 3254 people were arrest- ed in 2019 on drug-related charges.
As per data available with law enforcement agencies: In 2018, 8.7 kg of heroin and 187 kg of marijuana was seized; between January and June 2019, 4.1 kg of heroin, 60 kg of marijuana and 102,424 tablets were recovered. On 29 February 2020, 3.9 million tablets of Methamphetamine worth Rs 970 million were recovered at Vairengete while on 17 July 2020, Ecstasy tablets worth Rs 20 crore were caught.
A major reason for this rampant drug problem in the state is the illegally settled Chin population which has close ties to the drug network. Yaba tablets, produced in the Wa state of Myanmar and which are in high demand in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru, are smuggled through Mizoram.
Apart from drugs, Mizoram has also become a hub for trafficking various metals and other products. It is one of the fastest growing hubs of gold smuggling from China. More than 800 kg gold has been recovered in the last two years. Dried betel nut is also trafficked through Mizoram with an annual turnover of Rs 3,500 crore. Since legal import tax is 300%, there is a multinational betel nut smuggling network which is active in the state.
Arms and fertiliser are the other products that are smuggled through Mizoram. Assam Rifles has made stellar contributions in recovering illegal drugs and other contraband. Looking at the data with effect from 1 March 2020 till date, the force has apprehended 39 Myanmar nationals and 96 drug peddlers. It has recovered drugs worth Rs 50.469 crore.
Assam Rifles, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, has setup medical camps, run awareness campaigns and helped out the local population in a number of ways. These efforts have been appreciated by the people of Mizoram. However there are certain anti- national/anti-societal elements which want to create a rift between Assam Rifles and the local government. As a result, a sustained campaign has been run attempting to show the Assam Rifles in a poor light.
On 08 Sep 2020, there was an attempt made by a trader posing as an ex-CISF soldier to influence DG Assam Rifles for getting trucks through check posts in Mizoram. After interaction with the
DG on video phone, the individual left behind a packet with gold jewellery which was promptly reported to law enforcement agencies and to various other government agencies. Assam Rifles, besides involving in curbing smuggling activities is also providing basic job opportunities to the local population in Mizoram. Efforts by Assam Rifles in conjunction with Mizoram administration will go a long way in freeing the local population from the ill effects of drug peddling and assist the local economy free itself from smuggling activities.