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Yaba drug smuggling, addiction rates record alarming rise in Bangladesh

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Dhaka (Bangladesh), April 23: Smuggling of the highly-addictive drug yaba — and its soaring acceptance among the youth and even celebrities — is a challenge Bangladesh faces increasingly as Rohingya refugees from neighbouring Myanmar are suspected to be peddling it as a means of survival, say border guard officials.

On a recent trip to the border areas of Bangladesh, an Indian media group was told that a wave of yaba use has swept over the country as young people from the middle and upper income classes are experimenting with this “crazy medicine” and fuelling an alarming surge in addiction rates.

Officials of the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) said they have seized 5,297,234 pieces of yaba pills this year up to March and arrested 151 smugglers, including 15 Myanmar nationals, as a massive influx of Rohingya refugees brought increased smuggling from that country. The number of seized pills was around 14,997,570 in 2017 when 649 people, including 15 Myanmar nationals, were held.

Raids on fishing boats on the Naff river– which divides Bangladesh and Myanmar, countries that share a 271-km boundary — have reaped a massive haul of yaba pills, which is a rage among Bangladeshi youth.

“In one raid on March 15, we seized 1.8 million yaba pills abandoned in four sacks in the Naff river,” Brigadier General S.M. Rakibullah told IANS.

Rakibullah, Additional Director General and Regional Commander of BGB’s Adhoc Region Headquarters in Cox’s Bazar, said: “It is the biggest ever yaba seizure by the BGB. The guards arrested 11 smugglers in March, including seven Rohingyas.”

Shahidur Rahman, Director, BGB Battalion, Feni region, said yaba pills have become an easy source of income for the Rohingyas who have poured across the border since the Myanmar military launched a crackdown in their native Rakhine state on August 24-25 night last year.

Rohingya refugees act as carriers of yaba, which is known as “crazy medicine”, and hand over the pills to dealers on the Bangladesh side of the border who then take them to the country’s main cities, Rahman said.

Three young Rohingya refugees — identified as Mohammed Saddam, Masud Talukder and Jamil Hossein — were arrested last week in separate drives and over 100,000 yaba pills (worth in crores) were recovered from their possession in the Cox Bazar area, the official said.

He said “it is a way to make easy money as one tablet is sold illegally for 300 Taka”.

A BGB official, on condition of anonymity, said the force has been facing tough times to stop the yaba smuggling because of the difficulty in patrolling the 54 km of the Naff river.

“Smuggling of yaba came to light some time towards the end of 2015, but the menace has grown since the influx of Rohingyas who are lured by Myanmar crime syndicate as carriers. The internal carriers have increased. Some of them are desperate just for survival,” the official said.

The Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh has called for “zero tolerance” on smuggling of yaba, which has one too many nicknames and was outlawed in Thailand in the early 1970s.

Another BGB official said Thailand is one of the largest sources of yaba while Myanmar is one of the biggest producers of it. “Yaba pills are produced in labs on the Myanmar side.”

He said Yaba is mostly popular among those who suffer from sexual or mental problems. “Some unscrupulous doctors and chemists prescribe and sell pills laced with yaba for immediate relief.”

The drug is believed to have led to organised crime rackets, official corruption, street violence and broken families, said the official.

Many syndicates are bringing yaba pills from Teknaf to Dhaka through new routes after the contraband tablets are smuggled from Myanmar. From Teknaf, the pills first reach Patuakhali’s Kuakata in fishing boats and then make their way through different modes of transport.

Acting regional commander of south east region of BGB, Colonel Gazi Md Ahsanuzzaman, said that yaba smuggling had gone up since last year.

“Tablets worth Taka 1.25 crore are smuggled per day into Bangladesh. Earlier the number was in a few lakhs. The tablets are smuggled through the Naff river via no-man’s land near Gumdhum village in the Cox region of Bangladesh.”

Yaba is spreading from urban to rural areas with drug abuse particularly increasing among street children, he said.

According to drug control authorities, from 2007 to 2010, illicit trafficking and abuse of yaba has increased almost 40 times in Bangladesh.

(Rajnish Singh visited Bangladesh between April 15 and 18 as part of BSF-sponsored Indian media group. He can be contacted at [email protected] )

World

Summit with Kim Jong-un could still go ahead on June 12: Trump

A day earlier, Trump in a letter to Kim announced to cancel their June 12 summit meeting in Singapore. He blamed Pyongyang’s “tremendous anger” and “open hostility” for his decision.

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Donald Trump

Washington, May 25 : US President Donald Trump today said that his administration is now talking with the North Koreans and hinted that the summit with Kim Jong-un could still go ahead on June 12, a day after he cancelled it.

“We’ll see what happens. We are talking to them now,” Trump said at the White House before boarding Marine One for a commencement address in Annapolis.

“They very much want to do it. We’d like to do it. We will see what happens,” he said.

Trump appeared to be optimistic even about the cancelled June 12 summit in Singapore. “It could be even on 12th June, he said in response to a question. “We will see what happens,” said the US President.

A day earlier, Trump in a letter to Kim announced to cancel their June 12 summit meeting in Singapore. He blamed Pyongyang’s “tremendous anger” and “open hostility” for his decision.

Later the White House said a “trail of broken promises” by the North Koreans, including keeping a team of US officials waiting in Singapore for a preparatory meeting, left Trump with no choice but to cancel his proposed summit with Kim.

In a statement, North Korea regretted the cancellation of the summit and said that it was willing to meet anytime in any way. Trump described it as a very good news.

“It was a very nice statement they put out. We will see what happens,” he told reporters in response to another question.

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Pakistan bans screenings of Indian films during Eid

The restrictions would be in place around the period of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Azha.

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Islamabad [Pakistan], May 25: The Pakistan government has imposed a ban on the screenings of Indian films in the country during the time of Eid.

According to a May 24 notification issued by Pakistan’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the exhibition and screening of Indian and foreign films will be banned for two days before the Eid to until two weeks after the holidays.

Pakistan Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Report

Image Credit- News18

Under this ban, no cinema across Pakistan will be allowed to show Indian movies during the Eid holidays which usually run for four days and bring in big business for the new Pakistani, Bollywood and Hollywood films.

The restrictions would be in place around the period of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Azha.

The ministry, in its letter, said the move was taken in order to “revive and promote the local film industry in Pakistan.”

“All the importers/distributors of the foreign films have been directed to restrain from the screening of Indian films in cinema houses all over the country during the above mentioned time period,” the letter stated.

An official in the ministry said the step had been taken after Pakistani film exhibitors, distributors and production houses complained about facing stiff competition from the Indian and Hollywood movies due to which their films get restricted to a limited number of screens in the country.

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Ready to sit down for talks with US anytime: North Korea

The North Korean side expressed regret over US President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel the summit with Kim Jong Un, previously scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.

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Trump Kim Meet

Pyongyang, May 25 (IANS) North Korea said on Friday that it is ready to sit down for talks with Washington anytime to solve problems between them, after the US side cancelled a planned summit with Pyongyang.

The North Korean side expressed regret over US President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel the summit with Kim Jong Un, previously scheduled for June 12 in Singapore, First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

Kim Kye Gwan also said that Trump’s decision does not conform to the international community’s aspiration for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the whole world.

Trump on Thursday sent a letter to Kim Jong Un, saying that their planned meeting will not happen.

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