Staff Reporter

BERHAMPUR: Large quantity of illicit ganja was seized from a deserted truck in remote jungle near Chitrakonda in Maoist-infested Malkangiri district.

It may be noted that illicit ganja cultivation in remote areas of Malkangiri and Gajapati districts of south Orissa are alleged to be a major source of income of Maoists. This truck was towed to Malkangiri town on Monday. The excise superintendent of Malkangiri district, Loknath Mandia said they had received a tip off that a truck load of ganja was being smuggled from Chitrakonda area to outside the State taking advantage of the recent rains. Increased presence of security forces for the proposed anti-naxal offensive has also proved to be a hindrance for smuggling of ganja from the district to outside states, Mr. Mandia said.

The truck carrying ganja had got stranded at a remote place on Chitrakonda-Balimela road due to some technical snag. But it seems the narcotic smugglers had also got the tip off about the trap. They deserted the truck and escaped by the time police and excise team reached the Maoist infested jungle.

Around 80 bags of narcotic were unearthed from the truck. These bags were hidden under mangoes and jackfruit to suppress the smell of marijuana. The assessment of value of the seizure was yet to be done. Yet it was suspected that it may be worth between Rs. 50 lakh to Rs. 1 crore.

It is alleged that Maoists as well some inhabitants of Malkangiri district are behind illegal cultivation of this ganja in remote areas in Malkangiri district and its smuggling outside the State.

The network of this illicit cultivation and trading of narcotics can be assessed from the fact that the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF) had seized 3,000 kilograms of ganja worth around Rs.10 crore from a truck from Malkangiri district in Lucknow in March. Four persons including Damburu Majhi, the president of the youth wing of the ruling Biju Janata Dal in Malkangiri district were arrested by the STF for their involvement in the smuggling of this huge amount of ganja.

This ganja had also emerged from the Chitrakonda-Balimela area of Malkangiri district.