Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam Tuesday urged the civil and police administration of the State to adopt a more humanitarian approach while dealing with patients of substance abuse. Speaking at a function organised by SKIMS Medical College Bemina to commemorate the National Anti-Drug Addiction Day, chief secretary decried that drug industry in Kashmir was in the hands of criminals who could destroy the foundation of a civilized society. “We are witnessing lots of cases in J&K where consignments of banned drugs are seized,” he said and called for strict and coordinated action against the people involved in selling banned drugs to youngsters. Drug menace is a serious problem in the state and conscience keepers of the society have been agitating the issue time and again to the deaf ears of the people responsible for curbing it. The latest figures say that the drug addiction cases have witnessed 100% in increase in 2017 in comparison to 2016. As per the official data at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital, the cases of drug addiction registered from January 2017 to December 2017 were 4000 while during the same period in 2016, the cases stood at 2200. The data says that the SMHS hospital alone records 90 patients in its OPD daily. The other hospitals and state-sponsored and privately owned de-addiction centres also have disturbing inflow of drug-addict patients. Recently, a young boy in Shopian died due to overdose of drugs leaving his parents in the life’s worst grief. The boy had previously been admitted in different rehabilitation and counselling centres but in vain. It is not an isolated case. The menace of drugs is catching up the young Kashmir fast and furiously. Be it a way to fight personal crisis, means to wipe the mental scars or just a sign of being cool, a section of youth in Kashmir have fallen into the net of drugs. Charas, brown sugar, cocaine, cannabis, psychotropic drugs et al are the new weapons of mass destruction for the youth.
What is more disturbing is that drug peddlers have found their way in the most sensitive areas of our society. They 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. Sometime back a premier woman’s college cancelled admissions of around half a dozen girl students and issued notices to their parents for ‘bad behaviour’ of their wards. Some of these students had been found taking drugs and other immoral activities within the college premises. Easy access to drugs and uncontrolled activities of drug peddlers are reported to be the main contributing causes of this insidious phenomenon. Figures released by J&K Police reveal around 2,574 kilograms of cannabis and its derivatives, 11,000 bottles and 17,000 tablets of psychotropic prescription drugs were seized in 2013. Police have arrested 247 persons involved in illicit drugs related activities and registered 227 cases under narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances (NDPS) act in Kashmir Zone in 2013. Last year, 1,000 kilograms of cannabis and its derivatives, 115 kilograms of brown sugar and about 1,600 bottles and 14,000 tablets of psychotropic prescription drugs were recovered by police in Kashmir Zone. The most worrying part is that there is little effort on the part of the concerned people in the administration to curb the menace. A few years back union ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment launched a scheme under which financial assistance is being provided to the states for prevention of the drug abuse. However, Jammu and Kashmir has benefited least from the scheme so far. Since the admission and information has now come from the highest seat of the state administration one hopes that the drug control department would come out of the slumber and takes measures to arrest the menace. Chief Secretary should personally monitor the functioning of the department as there are reports that the officials of the Drug Control department are either oblivious of their responsibilities or are in league with drug peddlers.