A June 21 article in Sri Lanka’s Sunday Leader claims a huge influx into the island nation of cannabis being grown in southern India. The news peg for the report was a find of 685 kilograms abandoned on a beach in India’s southern Tamil Nadu state. Tamil Nadu, just across the Palk Strait from Sri Lanka, has apparently emerged as a key transit corridor. Sri Lankan naval forces have this year seized over 200,000 kilos of cannabis, and arrested scores in connection with the hauls—both Indian and Sri Lankan nationals. Two zones are identified as centers of Indian cultivation: the southern state of Kerala (just to the west of Tamil Nadu) and the border area between the eastern states of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha (formerly Orissa, up the coast).
In this second zone, where Indian security forces reportedly seized more than 120 metric tons of cannabis last year, cultivation is said to be under the control of the Maoist Naxalite guerillas. The border zone is indeed a hotbed of the Naxalite insurgency. The report also notes long-standing claims that the Naxalites and other tribal-based guerilla movements in India’s remote northeast are funding their insurgencies through the drug trade—opium, as well as cannabis. The illicit trade appears to be spreading along with the insurgency down India’s eastern jungle belt.