Areca nut 'smugglers' vehicles set on fire in Mizoram's Mamit

Aizawl: A group of approximately 50 people set fire to six vehicles carrying consignments of areca nuts in western Mizoram’s Mamit district near the Tripura border, a senior police officer said on Sunday.

The incident occurred early Saturday morning near the Putarte river between the villages of Zamuang and Zawlnuam on National Highway 108. The vehicles were heading towards Kanhmun on the Mizoram-Tripura border. The dried areca nuts are believed to have been smuggled from Myanmar, Mamit district Superintendent of Police Lalthangpui Pulamte said. 

She said that the dried areca nuts were believed to be smuggled from Myanmar.
The people intercepted the vehicles between 4 am and 5 am and after the drivers were told to unload their consignments, the vehicles were parked on the roadside and burned along with the consignments around 6:30 am, she said. 

The SP said that a case has been registered at Kanhmun police station and a massive investigation is on.

No person or group claimed responsibility and no one has been arrested till now, she said. 

She added that the possible cause of the incident is not yet known.

The incident happened about a month after  Hachhek Bial Kuhva Chingtu Pawl (HBKCP), an areca nut growers’ society in Mamit’s Hachhek assembly constituency, warned that vehicles carrying smuggled Burmese areca nuts should not pass through the area and that the society will hold no responsibility in the event of any untoward incident to such consignments. 

The HBKCP had in October staged an agitation demanding the state government to ensure that locally grown areca nuts are transported and sold in Assam. The areca nut growers alleged that they could not transport and sell their products to Assam due to the crackdown on Burmese area nuts launched by the neighbouring state.
The HBKCP general secretary Lalremruata Khiangte claimed that none of their members was involved in Saturday’s incident. 

“People in the Hachhek area are very disappointed because of smuggled Burmese areca nuts, which badly affect their markets. Saturday’s incident might have been committed by some angry mob,” he said

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Five pickup trucks and a heavy truck were burnt in the incident, he said. Apart from Burmese areca nuts, the consignment also included opium seeds and foreign cigarettes, he added. 

Last week, Mizoram Rajya Sabha member K. Vanlalvena raised the issue of areca nuts in Parliament, saying that the restrictions imposed by Assam have had a negative impact on areca nut farmers and traders in Mizoram and Jampui Hills in Tripura.

Also read | Meghalaya: Police seize heroin worth Rs 1.5 lakh in Ampati

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