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Need for a comprehensive campaign

Jammu and Kashmir police on Tuesday arrested two inter-state drug peddlers from Nagrota and Banihal areas of the region and seized from their possession over 1400 kilograms of poppy straw. The police said that the accused, a resident of Ludhiana, Punjab, has been arrested and booked in case FIR number 300/2018 under section 8/15 of the NDPS Act registered at police station Nagrota. This year, the police have arrested 667 people in 542 cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act for drug peddling and smuggling. Official statistics point out that drug seizures have increased in the recent past. A couple of consignments had even come from across the border. So far, 137 kg of heroin, including 66.5 kg smuggled from PAK in a cross-LoC truck, 175 kg of charas, 760.5 kg of cannabis (bhang), 164.5 kg of ganja, besides opium and cocaine in small qualities were seized by the police from across the state. Other seizures include 2, 61,539 psychotropic substances and around 8,150 kg of opium derivatives. As many as 1,213 people were arrested on charges of being involved in 888 cases of drug smuggling and drug abuse, the police said. That gives a very alarming picture of our society. Former DGP, S P Vaid, just before his removal, had said that drug menace was a bigger challenge than ‘terrorism’. This simply gives one the idea of frightening situation in the state. Ironically, apart from cannabis, heroin and pharmaceutical drugs, it is petrol, which is the darling of drug addicts mainly in the Jammu region and the doctors at Jammu’s Government Psychiatry Hospital term it as an alarming new trend in drug addiction. They warned that petrol addiction is very dangerous as it hits the brain directly and the person indulging in it gets seizures (fits). Proxymon, thinner fluid, which comes with Typewriter whitener, boot polish and Corex are also increasingly being used by drug addicts in Jammu. Typewriter thinner fluid has hydrocarbons in it and the drug users pour it on the handkerchiefs and inhale it. The doctors also say that poppy husk or Bhukki is the most common substance abuse among low strata in the society in the region. Some studies have reported that tobacco, cannabis, alcohol, benzodiazepines, opiates such as codeine, heroin and morphine, brown sugar, inhalants, glue, paint thinner, petrol and shoe polish are the major drugs of abuse in the state. The Valley’s psychiatrists who treat hundreds of patients on daily basis said the nearly three-decade turmoil has also taken a huge role in pushing many youth to drugs. Many youth who have seen the worst unfolding around them or became victims themselves turned to drugs as a means to escape the pain. The most agonizing part is that there is no substantial effort either from the society or the state to curb this menace. It needs a collective effort of all the stakeholder including the civil society, lawyers’ fraternity and judiciary because at times the accused are released on small technical failures. They must realise it is a fight against a mafia that is out to destroy the society. The J&K police is running drug de-addiction centres in Srinagar and Jammu. Also smaller ones are run in Anantnag and Baramulla in the Valley and Kathua and Udhampur in Jammu region. Though there is need for more such rehabilitation centres but at the same time police need to intensify its efforts to curb it by acting hard against drug peddlers. A massive awareness campaign is also needed in which Imams, mosque preachers and Mohallah heads can play a great role. We cannot afford any easygoingness in this regard.