Drug consumption and drug trafficking is one of the most formidable challenges in Jammu and Kashmir. There are certain legitimate questions which the government of the day needs to respond to sooner than later
by Bashir Assad
Drug consumption and drug peddling in Kashmir has rung alarm bells. Vulnerable youth are easily being lured towards drug consumption and trafficking. Post the Talibanization of Afganistan, smuggling of drugs into Kashmir valley has reached alarming levels.
Locally, the cultivation of cannabis also continues right under the nose of the civil administration. The consumption of drugs in Kashmir valley alone is as high as in the state of Punjab. Recently a video went viral on social media wherein four Kashmiri youth including a long-bearded person looking like a Moulvi were seen consuming drugs both orally and through injections in some area of Srinagar city. A senior journalist while commenting on the video tweeted, “Is this Kabul or Srinagar?”
This actually reflects on how grave the problem of drug consumption in Kashmir is. Deliberating on the issue of drug menace and considering the seriousness of the issue, Kashmir Central has decided to keep writing on various dimensions of drug menace.
Allegations Of Police Complicity
While we talk of worrisome levels of drug consumption in Kashmir, a major question arises. We come across reports of seizure of huge quantity of drugs by the police and security agencies almost on daily basis. If that is the case, why does not affect the overall consumption rate? Law-enforcing agencies are claiming to have busted so many drug trafficking modules. They have arrested hundreds of peddlers. They have seized huge cache of drugs. Then why there is no let up in consumption? How is it that more and more youngsters are falling prey to the drug menace?
Since the last so many years, it has come to the fore that the law enforcing agencies at the lower levels are somehow complicit either in letting the drug peddlers operate freely, or the figures about the seizure of drugs are fudged. It is being alleged that recycling of drugs starts from police stations itself. On many occasions, serious allegations of drug trafficking by the corrupt police and enforcement departments have come to the fore in Jammu and Kashmir.
Corrupt law enforcement officers are allegedly paid by the criminal organizations to make sure that drugs were not intercepted as they are smuggled from across the border. Given the high incidence of drug trafficking and drug abuse in Kashmir, the involvement of corrupt officials in the police and other law enforcing agencies in Kashmir valley cannot be ruled out.
There is no official record or data which can estimate the extent of police corruption or how much of corruption is drug-related. However, the reports and studies reviewed, as well as interviews with officials and academic experts, provide descriptive information on the nature and extent of known drug-related police corruption in many parts of Kashmir valley and the hilly districts of Kishtaswar and Baderwah in Jammu region.
Findings show that drug-related police corruption differs in a variety of ways from other types of police corruption. In addition to protecting criminals or ignoring their activities, officers involved in drug-related corruption are more likely to be involved in the commission of a variety of crimes, including stealing drugs and/or money from drug dealers, and also selling drugs.
In a very high profile incident some years ago, alleged police corruption related to drug trafficking through LOC trade was also reported, though guardedly.
Deafening Silence Of Society On This Grave Issue
Just two years back in Anantnag district in south Kashmir, the police and the tehsildar concerned seized an underground hide out where cannabis in large quantity and huge cash was dumped by the owner of the hide out. It was alleged that the Police and the Tehsildar put on record only about one-third of the drugs and cash seized from the site. The lion’s share was sold off by the corrupt officials.
Drug menace in Kashmir is destroying many families on daily basis. Our society is mute to such a grave issue, which is hurting. The response from the people to such alarming level of drug abuse is missing. Perhaps the mute societal response encourages the corrupt in the system. They take advantage of public silence.
So far, there are no signs of the Kashmir society rejecting the drug abuse. This deafening silence is not anticipated from the people who are conscious citizens – conscious of their duties and responsibilities. That aside, drug abuse in Kashmir valley has raised many questions. A legitimate question which baffles an average mind is this – is such alarming level of drug abuse possible without the connivance of the district and police official machinery?
Litmus Test For Men In Uniform
A senior police official who did not want to be named told Kashmir Central that we cannot blame the police for the drug menace. We cannot institutionalize the errors of a few, he stressed.
The officer candidly responded to our question by saying that drug abuse in Kashmir has corrupted many, but has also been a litmus test for men in uniform. Most of them, he said, have proven their honesty and integrity. When asked how such high drug consumption and peddling is possible without the involvement of officials of law enforcing agencies, the senior police officer again said that not everybody is honest and not everybody is corrupt. “There is an element which thrives on drug trade. And they definitely try to corrupt the officials and in certain cases they succeed,” the officer said.
Whispers abound that the seized drug cartels are sold in the open market by the officials. It is also alleged that there is an element of dishonesty prevailing in the system, because of which the recycling takes place. These allegations are depressing, as mysteries shroud the integrity of some ranks in the police force. It is even more saddening that the society is maintaining criminal silence over the menace of drug abuse engulfing us.