Silchar: Burmese betel-nuts valued at over Rs. 1.5 crore were seized from a train in south Assam’s Hailakandi district on Wednesday.

According to sources, a team of cops seized over 560 bags of Burmese betelnuts from two bogies of a train, which was on its way to Cachar district’s Silchar from Mizoram’s Bairabi. The railway station, located near the Assam-Mizoram inter-state border, is about 70km from Hailakandi town.

Ramnathpur police station’s officer-in-charge Nabojit Lahon told reporters that the seized Burmese betelnuts had been handed over to the railway police. A few people present at the railway station grew suspicious after seeing two bogies (from which the betelnuts were seized) closed and informed the police out of curiosity. Police reached the spot, got the bogies opened and found bags of Burmese betelnuts inside, Lahon said.

He said the railway police, after receiving the seized contraband from Ramnathpur police, sent it (Burmese betelnuts consignment) to a community hall in the Baldabaldi area near Jamira in Hailakandi district.

Hailakandi superintendent of police Gaurav Upadhyay, who visited the railway station on Wednesday after the betel-nuts’ seizure, said the matter was being probed to find out more details about the smuggling of Burmese betel-nuts in/through Hailakandi district/Barak Valley.

A source in the police said it is being suspected that the Burmese betel-nuts were about to be smuggled from Mizoram to West Bengal. An investigation is underway to track down the racket controlling the illegal trade, the source said.

It is pertinent to mention that Barak Valley has, in the past few months, witnessed a number of seizures of Burmese betelnuts and arrests of people suspected to be involved in the smuggling of the item. Burmese betelnuts, valued at around Rs. 1.5 crore, were seized from a godown in Chandrapur under Lala police station in Hailakandi district on January 28.

On January 5, Burmese betelnuts valued at crores of rupees were seized from three lorries and seven persons were arrested in this connection from Khambarbazar, Katigorah in the Cachar district. Burmese betelnuts worth over Rs. 1 crore were seized from two lorries and four men were arrested near the Churaibari police watch post in Karimganj district on January 3.

Two men Altaf Hussain and Jakir Ahmed Talukdar were arrested from the Chamragudam area in Silchar on February 19 for their suspected involvement in the illegal trade of Burmese betelnuts in Barak Valley. Suspected supari mafia leader Didarul Haque (alias Bablu) was arrested from Brahmangram, Kalain in Cachar district on January 7.

On December 15, Assam police had nabbed another suspected supari mafia leader Nayan Ghosh from a hotel in the Ulubari area of Guwahati. It was found during further investigations that Nayan, who was one of the top members of the racket running the illegal trade of Burmese betel-nuts in Barak Valley, was also involved in illegal drug dealings.

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