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Dhaka Tribune

Poppy cultivation near border foiled

Update : 10 Mar 2014, 07:36 PM

A recent drive by local authority in Dinajpur’s Nawabganj upazila has managed to foil the cultivation of opium poppy plants on about eight bighas of no man’s land on the border.

Farmers living on both sides of the border near Kushdoho union have allegedly been active in cultivating opium poppy plants, the production of which is banned in the country.

On March 3, an upazila taskforce committee – comprising officials from the Department of Narcotics Control, Border Guard Bangladesh and local administration – conducted the drive to detain the perpetrators and destroy poppy fields in the area.

Nawabganj Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Sayed Farhad Hossain, who led the drive, said: “The land owners escaped during the eviction drive.”

The locals have been warned against the further cultivation of opium poppy plants, the UNO said, and alleged that field officers of the Agriculture Department did not take the matter seriously.

 Md Shah Newaz, assistant director of Department of Narcotics Control, said: “The farmers were not aware about the ban and downsides of poppy cultivation.”

“They cultivated the fruit to use poppy seeds as spices. They collected poppy seeds from the field, while the rest of the product was utilised as fuel. We will investigate the involvement of the businesspeople in this regard,” he said.

The farmers were issued warnings while no case has been filed in this regard, the assistant director added.

Poppy plants were reportedly cultivated near the police outpost in Aftabganj village of the upazila, as most of the locals were unaware about the plant.

Local union parishad Chairman Azizul Haque said: “There is no poppy plant in the villages after the eviction drive.”

Poppies are used for producing opium and other drugs like heroin, morphine and codeine.

Anyone found illegally cultivating poppy plants could face jail time between two and 13 years, while the customs law has also imposed a ban on the import of poppy seeds.

Despite bans by many countries against poppy cultivation, criminal groups grow the plant in different countries including India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey.

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