AIZAWL: Mizoram has witnessed a disturbing surge in drug-related deaths, with a total of 68 fatalities reported between January and November 2023, according to a recent update from the State’s Excise and Narcotics Department.
The information comes just ahead of the formation of a new government in the state.
Heroin has emerged as the primary contributor to this grim statistic, claiming the lives of 68 individuals, including 11 women.
A departmental officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to a national daily, revealed that the figures might escalate by the end of the year.
Notably, the current count has already surpassed the 43 drug-related deaths recorded in 2022, despite a marginal drop from 47 in 2021.
The first case of drug-related death in Mizoram was documented in 1984, and since then, a total of 1,804 people, including 218 women, have succumbed to drug abuse.
The state, positioned as a major route for the smuggling of heroin and other narcotics from Myanmar, has grappled with this issue for decades.
Drug abuse in Mizoram reached alarming levels at the turn of the millennium, with 139 deaths reported in 2000.
The highest toll was recorded in 2004, with 143 drug-related deaths.
Addressing the issue of drug trafficking and abuse had been a key promise during the recent elections to the 40-member Mizoram Assembly, where the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) and other major political parties vied for power.
The results of the assembly polls will be declared tomorrow.
Between January and October of the current year, the Excise and Narcotics Department seized a substantial amount of narcotics, with 76.22 kg of heroin confiscated.
This marks a significant increase from the total seizure of 33.4 kg in 2022.
Additionally, officials reported seizing 148.46 kg of cannabis, 78.82 kg of methamphetamine, and other drugs, alongside a considerable quantity of alcohol.
Mizoram, being a dry state, prohibits the sale and consumption of liquor.