Drive against drugs, forest encroachment not against any tribe: Manipur govt.

The BJP-led Manipur government has claimed its eviction and anti-drug drives — two of the factors said to be behind the Kuki-Meitei clashes — are not targeted against any community.

Data released by K. Meghachandra Singh, Superintendent of Police of the Narcotics and Affairs of Border (NAB), on Tuesday said poppy plantations on a total of 15,496.8 acres were identified between the 2017-18 and 2022-23. During this period, 2,518 people were arrested under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. Out of the total area under poppy cultivation, 13,121.8 acres was in areas dominated by the Kuki-Chin people, 2,340 acres in Naga-majority areas and 35 acres in areas inhabited by other communities, the data said.

Poppy plantations on a total of 18,664.5 acres and cannabis plantations on a total of 20 acres were destroyed from 2017 to March 2023. Out of the total people arrested from 2017 to April 2023 under the NDPS Act, 873 belonged to the Kuki-Chin communities, 1,083 were Muslims (mostly Meitei Pangals), and 381 were Meiteis.

Data on forests

Another set of data said 291 encroachers were evicted from 20 reserve forests (RFs) and protected forests (PFs) across five districts — three of them in the non-tribal Meitei-dominated Imphal Valley — from January 1, 2017, to April 18, 2023. The data claimed Meitei people were uprooted from 16 of these RFs and PFs, Kabui Nagas from five, Kukis from four, Nepalese from three, Meitei Pangals from two and Chiru tribals from one.

“The Manipur government never targeted any particular community during eviction drives in protected areas conducted state-wide to preserve forests in view of the deteriorating climatic conditions,” Chief Minister N. Biren Singh said. “The drive against drugs too has not been any community-specific,” he added.