After taking suo moto cognizance of the ongoing illegal cultivation of opium poppy in Khunti, the Jharkhand High Court has enlisted the state government Home Secretary, DG( CID), and Narcotics Control Bureau as respondents and directed them to file counter affidavits. 

The court has fixed May 7 as the date of hearing of this case. The court has opined that cultivation of opium poppy without a license is prohibited under section 18 of the Act of 1985. 

Since it is going on in a large scale in Adivasi areas, it is a matter of concern for the state and Central Government functionaries. The cultivation of opium poppy irrespective of its quantity is covered by section 18(c) of the Act of 1985. 

At the ground level, cultivation of opium poppy has been going on scores of acres of land in remote areas of Khunti. While the cultivators were Adivasis, the network of buyers/suppliers who earned millions of rupees was spread across the country and abroad. 

Many of them were learnt to be involved Pathalgadi movement. In fact, in May 2016, the central government introduced two ordinances enabling the transfer of tribal land to the government for commercial purposes. 

Following this, the Pathalgadi movement regained prominence to fight for the tribal Jal-Jungle-Jameen (water-forest-land) and new stones were erected in several forest areas of Khunti where illegal cultivation of opium poppy was going.

This prevented law enforcement agencies from entering the areas of opium poppy cultivators and thereby the opium menace continued. However, despite the Pathalgadi promoters, the police had destroyed opium poppy plants grown on over 2,200 acres of land, said Khunti SP. 

“This year, opium poppy plants were destroyed in 1400 acres of land.”


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