Monday, July 22, 2024

Tripura’s Growing Problems of Drugs and Illegal Immigration

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The porous Bharat-Bangladesh border allowed two illegal immigrants to enter the state of Tripura. Recently, an Iranian citizen named Yakub Yazadanbakah crossed over into India with the help of Shahin Mondal, a Bangladeshi citizen. They made the border jump on the 20th of June 2023. Locals reported their ambiguous presence and suspicious meanderings outside the Aswini Market area to the police. The Agartala Police have apprehended the two illegal immigrants. They have found photographs of Pakistani terror camps on the phone of these individuals. Currently, the police are investigating the real purpose of their border crossing.

PC HinduPost

The rising instances of illegal border jumps by Rohingyas and Bangladeshis is a primary concern for the Indian Government. The presence of Pakistani links to these illegal immigrants highlights that a darker and more dangerous game at play. In addition, the growing problem of drugs and contraband put another color on the presence of illegal migrants in that state of Tripura.

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Tripura Used as Landing Zone in India

PC Jaipur Dialogues
June 2023

Earlier, the Tripura police had apprehended 7 Bangladeshi and 4 Rohingya Muslims for illegally entering the country. Bangladeshi touts were instrumental in their successful border crossing. The destination of these illegal immigrants was New Delhi. The reason for their attempt to illegally enjoy the hospitality of India remains a mystery.  

May 2023

Firstly the police apprehended 5 Rohingya Muslims in Tripura. They had illegally crossed the unfenced Bharat-Bangladesh border at Dharmanagar with the help of agents. Their intent was to catch a train from Tripura to Jammu and Kashmir. These youths had 25,000 Bangladeshi currency on them and fake Indian Aadhar Cards. They told the police that their decision to move to Jammu and Kashmir was influenced by the fake news of happy Bangladeshi residents in that state. 

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Thereafter another group of 5 illegal Bangladeshi immigrants was caught by the Tripura police. They had cut the wire fence and were hiding in an Indian agent’s home. The said Indian Muslim agent has been found absconding from home. The police state that the illegal flow of Muslim immigrants is a common problem in the Tripura region.

In June 2023, Home Minister Amit Shah’s Chintan Shivir put the completion of the fencing of the Bharat-Bangladesh border on its list of immediate concerns.

The issues is an important concern related to combating the illegal infiltration issue. However, the work on the ground is still not complete. India shares a 4,096-kilometer-long border with Bangladesh across five states. As per February 2023 reports a 952-km-long stretch of the total border remains to be fenced.

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Tripura has an 856-km-long India-Bangladesh border. There are many pockets that need to fenced along this border. Moreover, in some parts, the fence is being cut or tampered with to allow illegal immigrant traffic into India. The situation lands the state of Tripura in an uncomfortable position of being repeatedly targeted by immigrants for crossing the border.

Tripura and its Role in Global Narco-Politics

The Drug Nexus of Myanmar

Drug trafficking surging in year since Myanmar coup | Reuters
PC Reuters

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recently stated in a report that opium production in Myanmar has increased after the military coup in 2021. It said that the Myanmar administration has incentivized poppy cultivation. Thus, Myanmar farmers rely heavily on poppy cultivation as a safe insurance crop in times of political instability.

Moreover, the worsening economy of Myanmar has made poppy a desirable cash crop. This poppy cultivation is a security challenge for India, as Myanmar’s neighbor. The report states that areas like Chin and Kachin in Myanmar, close to India and Bangladesh, have increased the production of poppy significantly. Therefore, an expansion in the supply of drugs and contraband is expected in India and Bangladesh.

Myanmar plays a key role in the global opium supply chain. The geographical location of Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos make up the Golden Triangle of the Opium Nexus. They are important nodes in the opium trade. Myanmar offers efficient production of opium as well as land and sea access for opium transportation.

India and the Global Supply Chain of Contrabands

Drug Trafficking and Threat to Security | 20 Apr 2023
PC Drishti IAS

India’s geographical position unfortunately places it in the middle of the Golden Crescent and Golden Triangle. Consequently, India finds itself in the unenviable and uncomfortable position of having two neighbors, namely Afghanistan and Myanmar, that have increased their production and supply of opium. Therefore, India faces a large number of illegal immigrants that may or may not have hidden narcotics links in states like Tripura, Manipur, Nagaland, and Mizoram.

The NIA is investigating the presence of suspicious links between the transportation of contraband and the local police in Tripura. Moreover, the security forces have repeatedly confiscated large quantities of drugs and weapons in Tripura in the last few years. Therefore, Tripura has unwittingly become a point of concern for India in the global narco-politics of the Indian Subcontinent. Additionally, the illegal presence of foreigners, like the recently arrested Iranian, with photographs of Pakistani terror camps is a red flag. The Indian authorities should take note of the plausible nefarious intent of our ‘peaceful’ neighbors in the West. India must proactively employ preventive strategies to avoid the development of a widespread drug nexus, similar to the one in Manipur, in the state of Tripura.

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