YABA tablets, stimulants containing methamphetamine and caffeine, are known to have so far been smuggled into Bangladesh through its border with Myanmar and by sea, after being manufactured there. While the stimulant tablets continue to enter Bangladesh through the borders with Myanmar on a large scale, Yaba tablets are now found to have entered Bangladesh through its borders with India, which has caused fresh concern among security officials, calling out the authorities to fight against the smuggling of the drug substance on both the fronts that they earlier have done on a single front. Bangladesh’s border guards and the narcotics control department have in recent times seized several consignments of Yaba tablets and their pedlars at places in Chapainawabganj, Rahshai, Jaipurhat, Jashore, Sylhet Cumilla and Brahmanbaria, which leads the border guards, who fight against smuggling, to believe that Yaba tablets are now smuggled into Bangladesh through borders with Mizoram, Tripura, Malda and Murshidabad in India. But narcotics control officials and border guards, who find that the Yaba tablets in question entered Bangladesh from India, are not certain if the drug substance was produced or manufactured in India.
Bangladesh officials, mainly of the Department of Narcotics Control, have communicated with Indian authorities, including the Narcotics Control Bureau of India, and sought their cooperation in identifying the routes and producers of Yaba tablets to effectively fight the drug menace, but Bangladesh’s home ministry is yet to get any response from India’s Narcotics Control Bureau. Bangladesh officials said that they had sought India’s cooperation at the BIMSTEC Summit in Kathmandu in August 2018 and were sharing with India real-time information, but the efforts are yet to roll into any meaningful cooperation. The Bangladesh government in May 2018 set out a nationwide crackdown against drug substances, mainly Yaba, and pedlars and abusers. Drug dens continue to be busted, mainly in Cox’s Bazar, and more than 30,000 suspects are now in jail in connection with drug trade and abuse. At least 305, people, mostly suspected of peddling drug substances, came to be killed in what is said to be ‘gunfight’ with law enforcers or ‘gangland infighting’, which are often believed to be cases of extrajudicial killing that raised rights abuse furore at home and abroad. The border guards are reported to have seized 5,26,942 Yaba tablets only in January while 12.6 million tablets were seized in 2018.
Officials believe that tightened security along the border with Myanmar has prompted the smuggling of Yaba tablets, which are generally produced in Myanmar but could also be produced in some measure in India, into Bangladesh through the borders with India. Bangladesh’s moves with Myanmar — which appears to have been unfriendly towards Bangladesh as is evident in the case of Rohingya influx and Myanmar’s unwillingness to ensure a safe and sustainable repatriation of the refugees — to stop the production of Yaba along the borders and its smuggling into Bangladesh have almost fallen flat, but this should not be the case with India, which is considered ‘friendly’ towards Bangladesh. Dhaka must take up the issue with New Delhi in earnest to find ways to stop the smuggling of Yaba tablets through India-Bangladesh borders.
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