Cultivating opium without licence is an offence under the NDPS Act inviting a maximum punishment of 10 years’ RI.
District and Sessions Court judge NS Kolhe of Ambejogai town in Beed held the 25 accused guilty and also imposed a fine of Rs one lakh on each of them. However, 13 other farmers were acquitted due to lack of sufficient evidence against them.
According to prosecution, Shirsala police had raided the fields of 39 farmers in Wanjarwadi, Gholaptanda, Moha and nearby villages in Parli tehsil of Beed district in February 2012 and seized over 27,000 kg of wet opium crop worth Rs 1.36 crore.
Subsequently, 38 farmers were arrested and charged under various sections of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act for illegally growing opium in their fields. One of the farmers whose field was raided is still absconding.