The second battle

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The second battle

IN Jammu and Kashmir, terrorism supported by Pakistan, has never been lower, three years after Articles 370 and 35A were repealed. Security forces have worked hard to prevent terror activities in the UT and have dismantled 146 terrorist modules that the Pakistani intelligence services had developed in 2022. As a result, Pakistan’s 30-year plan to instill a culture of violence in the Valley with the support of an opportunistic and inbred political class, is failing.

Resultantly, Pakistan has turned to selling narcotics, to degenerate the youth of J&K, because, after all, it is getting harder to infiltrate with weaponry and terrorists.

Narcotics have lately been referred to as ‘the biggest challenge’ J&K faces. They are Pakistan’s new tool for financing terrorism in the Valley.

Pakistan has continuously provided financial and strategic assistance to insurgency in the Kashmir Valley by infiltrating weapons and militants, training them, and promoting a culture of violence that had numerous negative effects on the society. The centuries-old socio-economic and socio-cultural fabric of J&K was devastated by terrorists supported by Pakistan. The fatalities, widespread Pandit emigration and rising unemployment undermined the composite way of life and raised levels of boredom, sadness, and worry among the general populace. The drug policy now serves two aims for Islamabad while an increasing number of Kashmiris give up terrorism and the culture of violence. One, to undermine the foundation of societal cohesion, and two, to support terrorists in the Valley.

  • The hard truth

According to a research recently conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, 1.2 percent of people in Punjab use opioids as compared to 2.5 percent in Kashmir. The survey reveals that the daily expenditures on pharmaceuticals in the Valley amount to crores of rupees. Every month, one drug user in India spends more than Rs 88,000. The Valley’s long-standing informal social control and disciplinary systems enacted by village elders, have nearly completely collapsed, which is a crucial factor in this dangerous situation. This ancient system of social control has been rendered useless by Pakistan’s insidious assault on the Valley’s cultural foundation. The elders of villages have also frequently collaborated with Pakistan’s wicked plans by remaining silent and supporting the social decay.

Meanwhile, there are those that continue to fight the onslaught from the other side of the Border.

  • The police and its war against drugs

Jammu and Kashmir’s security forces are renowned for their counter-terrorism efforts. They have effectively worked together with the local government to obstruct Pakistan’s plans and those of its allies in the Valley. As the insurgency supported by Pakistan has subsided, the security services have turned their attention to the dealers of narcotics. The police registered 1,021 crimes in 2022 under the Narcotic Drugs Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and detained 1,700 drug dealers, including 138 infamous dealers. At the same time, massive amounts of illegal substances were recovered by the security forces, including 4.355 tonnes of poppy straw, 1.567 tonnes of fukki, 13 kgs of brown sugar, 56 kgs of heroin, and 212 kgs of charas.

The police raided a drug operation in Pakistan in December 2022, and detained 17 people, including five police officers and some political activists. Investigations found that in three months, more than five kgs of drugs worth Rs 5 crore were smuggled out of Pakistan. The Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyan, a Ministry Of Social Justice And Empowerment project to end drug addiction in 272 districts across India, has also been initiated by the local government. Large-scale awareness campaigns have been carried out by this programme in communities, institutions, and universities.

Recently a sizeable shipment of drugs was found in the Sopore neighbourhood of the Baramulla district of north Kashmir by the Jammu and Kashmir police. The drugs were being shipped to the Valley from Delhi, Punjab, and other states. In the Uri region of the Baramulla district in north Kashmir, the police claimed to have discovered drugs worth Rs 25 crore in October last year.

The administration then intends to stop selling drugs and seize the real estate of those involved in drug trafficking in order to cut off funding for insurgency activities beyond 2019, obtained through narco-terrorism. Sadly, due to social indifference, the breakdown of Kashmir’s conventional social control systems, and the silence of older residents, the civil society, and village-level committees, this project has struggled to function. Even the local political parties have criticised this idea and have said nothing about it. The Kashmiri society needs to have an internal discussion and look closely at Pakistan’s methods for inciting unrest, particularly through narco-terrorism. In order to let the youth participate meaningfully in the flurry of development initiatives launched by the national and Union Territory authorities in the wake of Article 370’s repeal, Kashmir’s elders and religious leaders – through mosques – need to join the fight against narcotics. In order to rid Kashmir of drug terrorism and the violence-instigating culture imposed by Pakistan, the government should also launch and facilitate public-private partnerships involving the local police, military, paramilitary, and citizen bodies. Also, Kashmir’s traditional and institutional social control systems need to be brought together. There has been no response from within, to the security agencies’ continuous appeal to the Kashmiris to join them in their campaigns to stop Pakistan’s plans of keeping the terror pot simmering and destroying the youth through narcotics. This is especially true of the police.

  • Support system for the addicts

Kashmir was referred to as ‘Peer Vaer’ (a place of apostles and rishis). Drug abuse was viewed as a serious sin, and dealers were frequently regarded with suspicion. People didn’t sympathise with them at all. But the overall picture has altered. Now, the production, trafficking, and consumption of drugs have stealthily crept into practically every settlement in Kashmir, no matter how big or tiny. People take pride in growing charas and poppy.

In addition to men, women and children are a big issue of concern when it comes to drug addiction and illegal trafficking. The need for the society to awaken so as to combat this threat is urgent.

People need support to go through crisis when it arises. They must express their emotions to those close to them. If their parents, teachers, and elders are unable to take them seriously or show any compassion, they will progressively fall into drug addiction. Many people won’t become drug addicts if the society were to ensure prompt intervention, especially if they are key figures like parents, teachers and elders. Parents are accountable for their children, after all.

Additionally, the society plays a significant influence in the rehabilitation process. Drug addicts require social and moral assistance during relapse or recidivism in addition to medical care, which society can effectively give.

Our society needs to go through a process of mending on many levels, including family, neighbourhood, schools, mosques, and institutions that are ingrained in and thrive within the society, in order to protect our children from threats like drug-addiction.

The role of law enforcement authorities, even if it comes later, is equally crucial. We require a strict and ongoing programme of awareness and education. The chain can be broken with the help of expert psychiatrists and counsellors working at school level. Drug abuse should be opposed in all forms; yet, drug users need care during treatment and when they relapse. Our culture should not coldly banish addicts.

Yaqeen Sikander, clinical psychologist and research scholar, says; “Kashmir has a growing and thriving youth population which is a blessing but when avenues are limited and youth find themselves without jobs, it can lead to maladaptive coping mechanisms like drugs. It is unfortunate that our curriculum doesn’t emphasise mental health and we are not taught psychological first-aid at schools which can help us tackle the problem of addiction from a young age. I also believe that because of social media, there is an unbelievable constant comparison going on and youth compare themselves to that standard and look for shortcuts in life. We need to emphasise a sense of purpose and overall meaning to tackle drug-addiction. More jobs, avenues and safe spaces for young people especially men are very important”.

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