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in bringing in the huge weapons consignment using its own ships.
Nizami will be questioned because the CFL jetty cannot be used
by anyone without clearance from the Industry Department and
Babbar will be questioned because the Home Department provides
security clearance for all landings at CFL jetty.
This author learned from highly-placed government sources in
Delhi that a top Awami League politician had informed Indian intel-
ligence well in advance about the exact time of the arrival of this huge
consignment, when he had come to Ajmer for a religious visit. The
politician has been leading the dock labour unions in Chittagong for a
while and these unions had been alerted about the large requirement
of labour on the night of 1 April to unload the huge consignment.
Special bonuses had been promised to the labour if they cleared the
consignment in good time. Indian intelligence conducted a successful
Guns, Drugs and Contraband 191
disinformation campaign to foil the induction of the consignment. It
alerted the Bangladesh police through its own sources in Chittagong,
telling them that these were weapons meant for the Awami League,
whose General Secretary Abdul Jalil had threatened to bring down
the BNP Jamait government by 30 April. When the police arrived
in strength, mysterious phone calls promptly alerted the press.
But while the Chittagong arms haul, the biggest seizure of illegal
weapons in South Asia, was successfully foiled, many similar consign-
ments have reached the ULFA through Bangladesh. The ULFA would
have brought it either by sea from Hong Kong, as Jane Intelligence
Review s Anthony Davies claims, or by the land route from Upper
Burma to the port of Sittwe in the Arakans and then on to Chittagong,
as claimed by Assam s security analyst Jaideep Saikia not merely
for arming its own cadres. The recruitment into ULFA has actually
dwindled since 2003, so there s much truth in Indian intelligence
claims that the ULFA has traded a large part of its weapons import,
selling it off to Indian and Nepal Maoists or other buyers in the
Indian mainland. While such large-scale weapons proliferation in
India serves the objectives of ULFA s external sponsors, the profits
from the trade helps ULFA fund its separatist campaign in Assam.
Both ways, it serves to fuel separatist violence arms its own fighters
and procure funds from the illicit weapons trade to keep the group
going despite reverses in the region.
Apart from arms, increasing fl ow of drugs, such as heroin and
methamphetamines, is a major cause of worry for the North East.
The region sits at the western end of Burma s infamous Golden
Triangle, one of the two largest narcotics producing regions in the
world. Though Afghanistan s poppy output has again surpassed that
of Burma after the Taliban who had banned drugs and enforced it
ruthlessly were forced out of power by a US-led military campaign,
there is no evidence that would suggest the poppy output of Burma
has fallen. It is only that the Afghans have grown more. Burma has
attracted more attention in recent years for other reasons the inten-
sified campaign for democracy during the 2007 Saffron Revolution
192 Troubled Periphery
or the miseries following the 2008 Cyclone Nargis. But Burma s drug
output has got less and less attention after the world s attention has
shifted away to Iraq and the volatile situation in the Middle East.
The International Narcotics Control Bureau (INCB), in its 2003
global report, has said that more than 70 per cent of the methamphet-
amines sold worldwide come from the Golden Triangle.8 The INCB
report ranks Burma as second to Afghanistan in opium production.
It says international pressure compelled Burma s military rulers to
undertake some anti-drug measures that led to a 40 per cent fall in
Burma s opium production from its peak of around 2,500 tonnes
in 1996. Indian and Western narcotics control officials fear that
Burma s military rulers, who maintain close relations with most
drug cartels that do not directly challenge the regime, might have
 just started taking it easy on the drugs front.9 By all indications,
Burma s heroin output, which in the past has shown the ability to
increase sharply (for example, from 54 tonnes in the 1970s to 166
tonnes in 1985 95),10 could now rise again.
What is more worrying about the Golden Triangle is the eight-
fold rise in the production of methamphetamines (sold on the street
as Speed or Yaba) from an estimated 100 million tablets in 1993
to 800 million tablets in 2002.11 Amphetamines are cheap and their
consumption among the youth is rising throughout the world because
they are seen as performance-enhancing drugs. This is a source of
concern for India as much as for the West or even China because
the consumption of amphetamines is rising quickly. Their low cost
means that local consumption in the North East would be much
higher than that of heroin. In fact, the Burmese military junta not
only encourages the sale of drugs in Burma (where it aims to distract
the youth from agitations and politics), but it also allows friendly
drug cartels to sell their wares openly in towns and villages on the
frontier with India and China. A recent report from Burma News
International came up with a classic case:
The unregulated and open sale of drugs has been reported in a village
near Bhamo Township, where a large number of local youths are said to
be getting addicted to the malaise. Reports said that black opium (Khat
Pong), heroin and amphetamines (Yaba) were freely being sold at a village,
seven miles away from Bhamo township. The authorities are said to be
keeping silent on the matter despite knowing about the drug trafficking
Guns, Drugs and Contraband 193
in the region. The drug peddlers and traffi ckers are let off after simple
warnings by the local forces.12
Two recent developments in the Golden Triangle do not bode well for
the North East s social stability and security. First, traditional drug
lords like Khun Sa have been eclipsed by ethnic rebel armies like the
UWSA in the Triangle. The Was are former head hunters who formed
the bulk of the fighting force of the Burmese Communist Party s (BCP)
military wing until they revolted against their Burman commissars
in the late 1980s. The once powerful BCP just withered away and
its Wa offi cers took to drugs. Today, the UWSA monopolizes the
amphetamine output to the extent that a recent Time magazine
cover article described the Was as the  Speed Tribe . Second, the Wa
monopoly over amphetamines has forced traditional drug lords like
the late Khun Sa and his successors to reinforce their control over
the heroin output. Khun Sa has tried to establish monopoly on the
heroin export routes from the Golden Triangle to Laos and Thailand.
Three years ago, he imposed a hefty 60 per cent  profit tax on smaller
cartels, forcing at least three of them to relocate their drug refineries
to the borders with India s North East and China s Yunnan province.
These three cartels headed by Zhang Zhi Ming (a former BCP
officer), Lo-Hsin Nian and the Wei brothers have between 14 and
18 refineries in western Burma, mostly in the Sagaing Division and
the Chin Hills, but some now as far down as the Arakans.13
These cartels are using almost 30 different routes to traffic their
drugs into the North East on their way to Western markets. Some
of these routes have been identified by India s Narcotics Control
Bureau (NCB), but NCB officials admit that the traffickers regularly [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]