Drugged into indifference?

Terrorism might have begun to dwindle on our streets, but there is a writing on the wall we
cannot turn our heads away from. It’s called drug abuse and it’s serious and rapidly eating into our youth, putting our society and security in peril. We, the society, need to sit up, shake off our indifference and do something.

Mian Tufail

EVEN as terrorism has begun to vanish from the streets of Jammu and Kashmir, it’s yet not time for any relaxation for the security forces. Narcotic terrorism, if we may use the term, has thrown a new challenge for the security forces here. The youth of Kashmir are increasingly getting swept into the folds of drug addiction, thus posing a huge security threat. One of the biggest effects of drugs is visible in the horrendous and shameful incidents of killings by male members of families. The problem is so intense that the Jammu and Kashmir police have declared war on drugs, in line with the war on terror to eradicate drug menace from the society.

Rampant incidents
In the holy month of Ramzan, an incident in the Bab Demb area of Srinagar sent shock waves throughout the Valley. While the Muslim majority state was observing the Ramzan fast, a youth in his 20s, was lying on the roadside at Bab Demb, Srinagar, adjacent to Khanyar. It was found that the young boy was under a heavy influence of drugs and was
lying unconscious. This unfolded the reality of how the menace of drugs has penetrated deep into our society. Jammu and Kashmir has a permeable border with neighbouring countries which makes the Union Territory prone to illicit drug trade. The growing
instances of drug trafficking in India were highlighted in the 2018 annual report by the United Nations-backed International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). According to the report, India is one of the major hubs for illicit drug trade. India’s strategic location places it amid two largest sources of illicit drugs in South Asia – Golden Crescent (Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran) on the north-west and the infamous Golden Triangle (Myanmar,
Thailand, and Laos) on the north-east. Jammu and Kashmir is a vital point of Golden
Crescent. Instability in Pakistan and Afghanistan region, from where drugs travel to the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, is a huge challenge to contain. The illicit drug trade helps terrorists to keep their operations intact and make the vulnerable section even more vulnerable to subversive activities.

Scary numbers

Pertinently, the Kashmir Valley topped the list of drug consumption in North India. A survey carried out by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of AIIMS on the magnitude of substance use in India, placed J&K on the fifth spot and claimed that over six lakh people in the UT were affected by drug abuse in the year 2022. During the winter session of the Parliament this year, Ministry of Home Affairs informed the Parliament that more than nine lakh people in Jammu and Kashmir were addicted to drugs, showing a huge spike in the number of cases.

Society remains mute
Last year, a college student, Waseem Ahmad of Sopore, died in the apple orchards. Doctors
declared that the deceased had died due to a heavy load of heroin. At the funeral, his wailing mother, addressed the gathering of mourners thus: “Today it was my child and tomorrow it can be your near and dear one. The police is doing its job along with other duties, but drug menace can be eradicated only if the heads and younger generation of the
society take a pledge to contain it in their respective areas; else it shall consume us all, irrespective of age and gender”. Clearly, the onus is indeed on the civil society,
intellectuals and NGOs who can stop a further penetration of narcotics in the Valley. But sadly, despite the large scale of substance abuse in the Valley, its people remain unmoved and aren’t ready to cooperate with the security forces on a larger scale. Although, there are some NGOs working in this field but they depend on the government for funding. Meanwhile, the drug de-addiction centres have kept themselves confined to the yearly
awareness functions only. Also, the curriculum in our educational institutions is low on drug abuse awareness and misses a chance at making students aware at an earlier stage of their lives.

Triggering a criminal mind

Another aspect of drug addiction is that abusers turn to theft and steal household items day in and day out. Reports suggest that there is a rampant spike of theft and burglary cases in the Valley. To maintain the cash flow needed to buy drugs, these abusers rob their families and friends and this has reached unprecedented frequency of late. One such
incident occurred in Anantnag district this winter when a young man – Aqib Ahmad Khan – attacked his mother Razia, and crushed her head after scuffle between them. The mother accused the son of stealing her money and gold with the help of his friends and all this was to buy drugs. While speaking to KC, Dr Arif Magrabi Khan, who works for drug abuse awareness, has raised a number of alarming points: “The younger generation is deeply trapped in drug abuse since drugs are cheaply available in J&K due to huge
trafficking from the India-Pakistan border. That’s The reason that one gram of heroin is available for Rs 1200 – Rs 1500 in Kupwara, while in Srinagar, the peddlers charge Rs 2500 – Rs 3000 for the same”. “Many well-off families with a huge social status, are struggling because their children are trapped in this menace. Drug abuse has affected every household today and if it is not contained scientifically and soon, the day isn’t far when Kashmir will be seen as its epicentre,” he adds.

Need of the hour: It’s crucial to ensure effective policing to arrest narcotic smuggling. Also, having drug de-addiction centres in every district to confront the emerging challenge of substance abuse, is a must. Awareness at school and college level matched by well-defined parenting to raise awareness, will subjugate the spike. Yes, a number of challenges stand looking into the UT administration’s face, but narcotic smuggling is a crucial problem, crying for attention and uprooting. It needs to be heeded to, lest it should destroy our present and future.


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