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Assam’s Didi: How a Drug Queen Was Caught With Rs 7 Cr of Heroin

Started 2 years ago, the crackdown on drugs in Assam has become intense, with cops focusing on grassroots players.

Updated
India
3 min read
EXCLUSIVE | Th. Paone alias Didi, in her early fifties, hails from Senapati in Manipur and was caught with an accomplice with Rs 7 crore worth of heroin in her possession in a planned bust by the Assam police.
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Suave with piercing eyes, reserved and extremely unassuming, she’d pass off as any ordinary woman who ventures frequently into the townships in Assam from Dimapur, an adjoining commercial hub.

It was not until 17 June that the real story behind the woman tumbled out; one of the most fascinating episodes in the ongoing crackdown on narcotics in Assam.

Th. Paone alias Didi, in her early fifties, hails from Senapati in Manipur. She was nabbed by a police squad led by Karbi Anglong Superintendent of Police Pushpraj Singh for being one of the main drug kingpins responsible for sending large consignments to Assam for the past several years.

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Didi’s Modus Operandi

“Didi was one of the main links in the supply chain. She was extremely slippery and it took us more than three weeks of hard work to track and arrest her,” said Superintendent of Police Pushpraj Singh.

“She was based in Dimapur and would hardly cross the border to Assam. So we had to lay a trap for her very meticulously and she fell for it,” he added.

Didi mostly dealt with Heroin No 4—the injectable variant of the drug—smuggled from laboratories in Myanmar not far from the Manipur border. Singh pointed out that the possibility of some consignments being sourced from Manipur could not be ruled out which means that she might have also been trafficking Brown Sugar, which has been abundantly confiscated from different regions of Assam for the past month and a half.

In her modus operandi, Didi seems to have followed the pattern established by previous drug barons: stocking the consignments at Dimapur in Nagaland after ferrying them from the border. The drugs would then be despatched in small packets to different destinations in Assam at Nagaon, Morigaon and Guwahati in buses and vehicles.

How was Didi Nabbed?

The police had been on Didi’s trail for almost two weeks after an intense crackdown began in Assam early last month. A decisive lead came with the arrest of a peddler with heroin in Karbi Anglong, who revealed vital details about Didi. This prompted the police to gather her phone number from a ‘source’ who was sent to Dimapur.

The next step was analysing call records and zeroing in on one of her trusted agents at Khatkhati in the same district, who was told to fix a deal for a large consignment. It was most likely that Didi would not have come had the deal been for a meagre quantity.

So on 17 June, cops were already waiting at Janakpukhuri when Didi arrived with 164 packets of heroin in an Alto, with an accomplice. Both were apprehended with the consignment, estimated to be Rs 7 crore in the market.

The consignment of drugs seized from Didi.
The consignment of drugs seized from Didi.
(Photo: Special arrangement by author)
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Why the Crackdown on Drugs in Assam?

The crackdown on narcotics began at least two years ago in Assam but there was no continuous confiscation of consignments. The sudden increase in the seizures has fuelled speculation among some sections of people on the reasons motivating the police to act now.

“Earlier, the police was focused upon the supply lines and not on the grassroots. which explains the increase in the seizures,” said Assam Police chief Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta.

A prominent factor was chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s categorical instruction to the police to begin the ‘clean up’ operation two days after he was sworn in last month.

Consequently, different varieties of drugs, ranging from prescription drugs to heroin have been confiscated, that were found to be sourced from far-off destinations.

Unlike the cattle syndicate, it is most unlikely that politicians and government officials were involved in the trafficking of narcotics in the state. The police inaction earlier stemmed primarily from the scarcity of manpower in the police station, best evidenced by the thousands of registered FIRs that have been put on the backburner, like many other states of the country.

As such, the police are compelled to focus more on the instructions received from the political bosses. The timber mafia is running amok in Assam but the confiscation of the item is more of an exception than the rule since the order from the top is to focus on drugs and cattle.

(Rajeev Bhattacharyya is a senior journalist in Guwahati. He tweets @rajkbhat.)

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