Banned drugs continue to pour into the valley, with an increasing number of cases being registered by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB). Official figures, as reported by this newspaper on Wednesday, revealed that in 2016, 873 persons were arrested in the state in 607 cases under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. The number increased by over 40 per cent in 2017, as 1,327 persons have been booked under the Act in 874 cases. Over the last three months, the NCB has seized 161 kg heroin valued at Rs 800 crore from Jammu alone. Parts of south Kashmir’s Kulgam and Bijbihara belt and north Kashmir’s Kupwara district are, in particular, reported to be the centre of narcotic production and sale. In Bijbihara and Kulgam belts cannabis is openly cultivated on large swaths of paddy and maize fields. Though the Narcotic department, on many occasions, took steps to destroy these fields but these cultivations come up every year. The worst of it is that the cultivators prefer cannabis over rice, maize and other crops. The cultivation of such narcotic produces has made addict to number of people in the area to charas-smoking. Many people in towns and cities too in other areas of the valley have fallen to the habit of charas-smoking. The inflow and availability of banned drugs is other form that is catching up many people across the state. Be it a way to fight personal crisis, means to wipe the mental scars or just a sign of being cool, many youth in Kashmir have fallen into the net of drugs, with such cases increasing by 35-40 per cent in the last few years. Charas, brown sugar, cocaine, cannabis, psychotropic drugs et al are the new weapons of mass destruction for the youth in Jammu and Kashmir. On the face the issue does little seem to be so menacing but delve a bit deep, the scale and horror would frighten you.
Around forty per cent of our youth, a majority of them students, have become habitual drug addicts. What is more disturbing is that drug peddlers having found their way in, have by now entrenched themselves into spaces of educational institutions as well. Some lower rung employees of educational institutions are reported to be in involved in trafficking of drugs in colleges and schools. Educational institutes for girls are on their radar. Easy access to drugs and uncontrolled activities of drug peddlers are reported to be the main contributing factors of this insidious phenomenon. If the menace is not arrested immediately, it would have its horrendous effect on the society as a whole. That makes it a national duty for every individual to fight it out in every possible way. While the government should galvanize police and other concerned departments to deal harshly with the drug peddlers, suppliers and their masters under law, the civil society and political leadership of all sorts too owe a responsibility towards the society. They too need to come forward against this menace by way of public awareness campaigns. Imams of mosques should speak on social issues including drug abuse in their Friday sermons. The separatist political parties of all sorts should also put in their effort to make society clean of this dirt. It should not be taken as offence. Azadi is a long drawn struggle, and may or may not take time. But that does not mean that we would ignore moral and social issue till ‘azadi’ is achieved. Our leadership must rise to the occasion and launch a comprehensive fight against all sorts of immoral activities.