Narinjara news

Chinese Dry cell Batteries held in Arakan raise a few more questions

Msungdaw, June 11:
The area commander of Nasaka border security forces Area 5 in northern Arakan State seized Chinese dry cell batteries worth over kyat one million from a large barge allegedly meant for smuggling into Bangladesh, a source in the Nasaka told.

On May 19, Major Khin Lay Maung, acting on a tip-off lay in wait in the Ngakhura creek on the Burmese side and seized the boat with contraband items. The crew members were able to flee the scene while contraband items included Sun brand dry cell batteries in 30 large snakeskin bags.

The Nasaka Area 5, based at Ngakhura village in Maungdaw township, opposite Hnila border point on Bangladesh side, has been used for years by the smugglers as safe haven for the contraband items like electrical and electronics goods brought from China including colour TVs, VCD players and many home appliances.

A local councillor from the village told our correspondent that, among the contraband goods from China umbrellas, thermos, hardware including locks are the mostly smuggled and hot items meant for the Bangladesh market. He also hinted about a possible link of some of the Nasaka members with smuggling of banned forest products, wild animal skins and drug smuggling into Bangladesh. “When a private from Rangoon comes to Maungdaw on Nasaka duty he has nothing except old clothes and pots and pans. Then after one year or so he takes back home gold ornaments, colour TVs, and many other valuable items. With wages not even enough for own survival how can a Nasaka member buy these things for himself unless he has links with the drug business?”, he asked our correspondent.

For a couple of years drug lord Khun Sa and the ceasefire Kokan group have been engaged in the transport business and shrimp export in Arakan State. “With the rise in street peddling of drugs in Sittwe, there is a rising concern about what these guys have been doing besides the seemingly innocent transport and fish export sectors. As parents of teenage children we are always in apprehension of the future of them, “ confirmed a guardian of two college-going kids at Mauleik Quarter of Sittwe.

The government officials in Bangladesh have also been suspicious about a link of drug smuggling into Bangladesh and the use of their country as a transit route for the drugs originating from Burma. The Bangladesh Minister of Home Affairs a couple of months ago confirmed in a meeting that a neighbouring country (without mentioning which country) has been using Bangladesh as a safe transit for their production of illegal drugs.

A merchant from Maungdaw told our correspondent that bribes open up smuggling routes to Bangladesh and that, the confiscation of batteries was a ‘sequel to misunderstanding’ between the smugglers and the Nasaka major who confiscated the batteries. “The smugglers bribed the Military Intelligence stationed there but did not give anything to the Nasaka Area 5 nearby,” he said. #