KOLKATA: In a desperate bid to raise funds, Maoist forces in West Bengal, have taken to opium farming in a number of districts in the state.
Subsidiary Intelligence Branch (SIB), the intelligence wing of the Union ministry of external affairs, has cautioned the West Bengal government on this.
State government sources said that the central intelligence wing has expressed concern over the increase in opium farming mainly in Bankura and West Midnapore districts of West Bengal, both considered to be Maoist strongholds.
“In fact, the Maoist guerrillas in these pockets are forcing the farmers to resort to opium cultivation. They are then demanding a major share of the harvest. They are then smuggling this opium to other states as well as the neighbouring country of Nepal,” a senior state government official said.
Jharkhand was the first state where the Maoists resorted to opium cultivation and intelligence agencies suspect that encouraged by the success there, the Maoist forces here are using the same model.
According to intelligence sources, the flow of funds to the Maoist forces in Jharkhand and West Bengal has dried out substantially, as the intelligence and security agencies have become active in this part of the country. The Maoist forces in West Bengal and Jharkhand get their funds from the Maoist forces in Andhra Pradesh, as well as from the parent Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).
While the intelligence agencies in India have blocked the route-contact between Maoist forces in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Nepal, the Royal Army of Nepal has blocked the route between the Nepali and the Indian Maoists.
The expenses of Maoist organisations have increased substantially for ensuring safe hideout. “Probably that is why they are desperately going for opium farming,” a state government official said.