Police find, destroy 15 lakh illegal poppy plants in Mandi’s Chauhar valley; probe on

The Himachal Pradesh police have seized over 15 lakh illegally cultivated poppy plants (opium) on 66 bighas in Chauhar valley of Mandi district, officials said.

Four police teams from Padhar came across three hilltops covered with poppy plants in full bloom, and destroyed the fields in a 17-hour operation over the last two days, police said.

According to Mandi SP, Shalini Agnihotri, the police department received a tip-off about a huge area covered in poppy fields in the Chauhar valley. After an initial recce on Wednesday, four separate police teams reached Garh village in Tikken sub-tehsil on Thursday to discover a patch of land where poppy plants were being cultivated illegally.

“On further investigation, the police party was surprised to see three hilltops looking like a carpet of white flowers. A closer look told them that they had actually stumbled across hilltops that had poppy plants in full bloom flowering stage growing on them,” she said.

Amid heavy rain and hailstorms, the teams climbed on and reached the first hilltop after a three-hour trek, the SP said. Then they descended and scaled the next two hills and found that a total of over 66 bighas of government and private land were under poppy plants. “During the raid, around 15 lakh opium plants were found and some samples seized from the spot. The remaining plants have been destroyed,” said Agnihotri.

She said that around five to six kilograms of opium is produced on one bigha land and the narcotic is then sold at around Rs 3 lakh per kilogram in the market. “Accordingly, around 330 kilos of opium could have been produced from this area with a market price of around Rs 10 crore,” said the police officer.

The police have registered four cases under section 18 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act at the Padhar police station, and further probe into the case is underway.