Opium poppy cultivation has been a global menace for the last 3-4 decades. The true events of drug cartels in Columbia and Mexico are well known in the World. In the Indian sub-continent, it would be rational to look into the two drug hotspots i.e. Golden Triangle and Golden Crecent. It would be relevant, wise to study and look into the past drug trade events that happened in India's Eastern Frontier (particularly in Manipur), and possible connection of poppy, drug trade with the Manipur violence that started on 3rd May 2023. In 2017, Manipur Govt. initiated the ‘War on Drugs 1.0’ and started a crackdown on opium poppy cultivation, drug business and trafficking in the State. The Govt. also started drone survey and satellite mapping of forest lands and poppy fields and found more than 15,000+ acres of opium poppy fields in the Hills. Recently in 2022, the ‘War on Drugs 2.0’ was started and intensified it by destroying opium poppy fields in the hills of Chandel, Churachandpur, Kangpokpi, and Tenoupal Districts [1,2]. The destruction of poppy plantations during 2017-2023 probably angered the drug lords and mafias. The affected drug lords/mafias have been looking for an opportunity to create a chaotic situation in Manipur. They found the opportunity in the ST demand of Meiteis and used it as cover-up for the violence and making a big human crisis. One can see a similarity between the present Manipur situation and the time of drug lord Pablo Escobar who once challenged the Columbian Govt. in late 1980s.

After the land surveys, the State Govt. also started the eviction drive against the land encroachments in both valley and hill areas. People in valley cooperated with the authority after getting reasonable compensation, however, the eviction drive was strongly opposed by the section of people in the southern hills of Manipur.

Opium Poppy Cultivation and Narco-Terrorism in Manipur and NE India is a big threat to National Security and Integrity.

Immigration in Manipur - Pattern and Waves

One must look at the past events and immigration patterns that happened in 1870s, 1940s, 1960s and in recent times (1988 - 2023). However, based on the available British and official records, the following are a few important indicators of immigrations that happened to Manipur.

  • After the war of ‘7 years devastation’ in 1826, there were likely that some of the
    invaders from Burma got settled in Manipur hills then. Their settlement got
    consolidated after the ‘Treaty of Yandaboo’ on Feb.24, 1826 between Manipur, British India and Burma (1 st Anglo-Burmese War) [14].
  • In Jan.-Feb.1872, during the expedition against the Lushais, some 649 captives were rescued, and 2,112 refugees came to seek Maharaja’s protection and got settled in Manipur in Thangching hills and present Churachandpur (then valley area of South-west of Moirang) [16].
  • As per an official letter and communication dated June 6, 1968, it is mentioned that a large number of Kuki refugees from Burma entered and got settled in Kongkhanthana of Ukhrul [17].
  • The immigration that happened after the 8888 uprising in Myanmar on 8th Aug.1988, undocumented in India.
  • As per the Official letter from Chief Secretary dated July 24, 2023, some 718 refugees from Myanmar entered into Indian territory [18].


  1. ‘Memorandum’ by the conglomeration of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) of Manipur, submitted to UN Secretary-General, 13 June,2023.
  2. ‘Opium Poppy Cultivation and Narco-Terrorism in Manipur and NE (From a Bird’s Eye and Geopolitical Perspective)’ – By Dr. Robindro (PhD), June 2023.
  3. Narco-Terrorism – The looming global menace at India’s Doorstep, July 31, 2023, by Ex-Major General AK Pattnaik.
  4. NK Singh and William Nunes, 'Drug Trafficking and Narco-terrorism as Security Threats: A Study of India's North-east,' Vol. 69, No. 1 (March 2013), pp. 65-82 (18 pages), Published By: Sage Publications, Ltd.
  5. A Classified report on ‘Opium Poppy Cultivation and Heroin Processing in Southeast Asia,’ U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Office of Intelligence Washington, DC 20537, (202) 307-8100, September 1992.
  6. ‘Colombia Coca Survey for 2004,’ published in June 2005 by UNODC. A similar report for Mexico by UNODC in 2018-19.
  7. UNODC report on Afghanistan: ‘Opium cultivation up nearly three times,’ 1 Nov.2022.
  8. ‘Opium Production Throughout the World,’ UNODC Report, 1949;
    ‘Opium poppy cultivation estimates increases by 33% in Myanmar in 2022’, UNODC Report, 2022
  9. A book on ‘Poppies, Opium and Heroin Production in Colombia and Mexico, in Apr 2018 by Guillermo Andrés Ospina, Jorge Hernández Tinajero, Martin Jelsma, Transnational Institute (tni), De Wittenstraat 25, 1052 AK Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Tel: +31-20-6626608, Fax: +31-20-6757176
    E-mail: [email protected], www.tni.org/drugs
  10. Reuters special report on ‘Myanmar’s Opium Business,’ February 20,2012.
  11. ‘Drugs and Demographics in Manipur’ by The Hindu, 12 th May 2023.
  12. ‘Torture to Death: Myanmar mass killings revealed,’ BBC report, 20 December 2021.
  13. ‘Global firms help Myanmar’s military make weapons,’ BBC Report, 16 Jan. 2023.
  14. The 7 years devastation in 1819-26 and subsequent the ‘Treaty of Yandaboo’ on
    Feb.24, 1826.
  15. The ‘Eastern Frontiers’ by Capt. RB Pemberton of 1835.
  16. The ‘Native State of Manipur’ 1873-74 by R. Brown, British Political Agent.
  17. ‘Settlement of Kuki refugees at Kongkhanthana’, June 6, 1968, Official letter by DC, Manipur to Under Secretary (Settlement), GoM.
  18. ‘718 refugees from Myanmar’ an Official letter by Chief Secretary, GoM, dated 24th July 2023.