Meghalaya police destroyed some Rs 4 crore worth of illegal narcotics today, incinerating the drugs in the Star Cement factory kiln at Lumshnong in East Jaintia Hills.
Heroin made up the greatest share, by value, with Rs 3 crore burnt, Director General of Police Lajja Ram Bishnoi informed. Cannabis worth Rs 80 lakh and another Rs 20 lakh worth of yaba tablets were also destroyed.
The drugs related to more than 50 criminal cases and were incinerated only after receiving court orders to do the same. Ten cases pertained to East Khasi Hills, two to Ri-Bhoi, 14 to West Khasi Hills and 25 to West Jaintia Hills.
Other cases are under process and additional quantities of drugs will be destroyed after court orders are received. “The procedures laid down by the Supreme Court for disposal of drugs are being meticulously followed,” the DGP told reporters.
With temperatures inside the cement kilns reaching 1,000 degree Celsius, the drugs were reduced to ashes “instantly,” the top cop added. “I sincerely hope the drug menace problem will evaporate permanently from the state,” Bishnoi quipped.
Ever since Bishnoi took over as DGP last year, there has been an increased focus by the police department on the drugs trade and drug use.
In the last year, Bishnoi further informed, nearly 24kg of heroin was seized by Meghalaya police, with each kilogramme worth in the range of Rs 8-10 crore in the market. In addition, more than 500 drug traffickers have been arrested and 135 criminal cases registered. The large numbers are testimony to the cooperation the police have received from the public in this fight.
However, the police are looking to do more to help wean Meghalayans off their drug habit.
The DGP said that around 1,500 awareness programmes have been conducted by the police force in the last year. Awareness is one of the six prongs in the police’s strategy to tackle drugs; some of the others include “continuous enforcement”, increased training for police and being involved in rehabilitation programmes.
In the past, slowness in prosecuting drug cases was partly down to a lack of testing facilities in Meghalaya. Samples had to be sent to other states, which prioritised their own needs. Now, however, a Rs 1 crore device has been purchased by Meghalaya to enable sample results in seven days, the DGP said.
The police want the drugs seized but also disposed of quickly. They do not want to have to hold on to them for long periods because of the danger of pilferage, even from police stations. CCTV cameras have now been installed to help keep this problem in check.
Meanwhile, Deputy Inspector General Davis NR Marak informed that the state government has not notified a specific incinerator for the disposal of drugs. Using cement companies has become a precedent as there are other agencies, such as Customs, that also make drug seizures and they have also approached cement companies for incineration.
Marak also explained something of the process of disposal. Each district has a committee tasked with the subject. These comprise not just police but representatives of other arms of government. Each range – western for Garo Hills and eastern for Khasi-Jaintia Hills – also has its own drugs disposal committee. Cases happen to be a lot lower in the western range, he added.