SRINAGAR — While the Jammu and Kashmir government has been pro-active in destroying cannabis and poppy cultivation, the real menace which has engulfed the union territory lately is the consumption of heroin and brown sugar that largely goes unchecked in the region, officials said on Saturday.
An official said that earlier, youth from only few areas would get involved in drugs but now entire Kashmir has become a hub of drug abuse and locals especially youth are falling prey to it.
“There is a thriving trade of drugs — heroin and brown sugar — which are prepared in laboratories elsewhere and are making their way into Kashmir,” an official said.
“The situation is very grim as out of 10 drug addicts, 9 use heroin,” an official said.
Locals from Sangam-Litter belt in South Kashmir said that drugs are freely available in the area like cigarettes, and drug addicts can now avail any kind of drug which is available in other parts of India.
“The police arrest the low-profile drug peddlers but big babus involved in the trade of drugs like heroin, brown sugar and spasmoproxyvom capsules are let free,” locals said.
Locals from Waghma, Dupatyar, Arwani, Hassanpora, Litter, Wachi, Safanagar and dozens of other villages in South Kashmir said that it is becoming difficult for women to move outside their residences alone as groups of drug addicts belonging to different parts of Kashmir keep roaming around in search of drugs.
“The drug traders and addicts roam freely due to which common people face a lot of inconveniences,” they said.
Shabir Ahmed (name changed), a youth from Srinagar, said that he often visits Sangam area, a hub of drugs in Anantnag district, to get his ‘dose’.
“I have been visiting the place since 2016 as herion and other drugs are costlier in Srinagar,” he said, adding that four packets of herion cost him Rs 3,000 in Sangam area, while in Srinagar, the cost is around Rs 7,000.
Shabir alleged that he often pays bribe to (police) officials at several check-points to go without any frisking.
Locals from different areas of South, Central and North Kashmir said that drug trade is flourishing in the valley only due to the support of officials, mainly by enforcement agencies.
“If enforcement agencies will work honestly on ground, it is not difficult to curb this menace,” they said.
“The enforcement agencies must learn from SDPO Awantipora Choudhary Ajaz, who has really worked hard on ground and has controlled this menace in the area to a great extent,” locals said.
“We cannot see our youth becoming drug addicts. Youth are the asset of a nation as they have to shoulder responsibilities in every field of life. Those dealing with drugs should be booked under Public Safety Act (PSA),” they said.
Pertinently, a large number of teenage girls and women have also turned to substance abuse in the Kashmir.
The United Nations International Drug Control Programme Survey in 2008 has found that there are 70,000 drug addicts in Kashmir, with 4,000 of them being females.
Females are also now falling prey to drugs like spasmoproxyvom capsule, sleeping pills, fluid, whitener, boot polish, fuki, charas etc.
Officials said that the heroin addicts admitted in drug de-addiction centres are dying on regular basis due to herion use (capsule or injectable), However, most of the deaths go unreported.
“Young people abusing herion are either brought dead to hospitals or they die in intensive care units undiagnosed because the families hide their story of drug abuse,” an official said.
One of the health officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, alleged that the government enforcement agencies destroying cultivations of cannabis and poppy is nothing but a fraud.
“If the administration really wants to destroy such cultivations, they would do it in the seasons of sowing and not when it is ripe,” an official said.
A police officer on the condition of anonymity acknowledged the failure of enforcement agencies to address the drug problem and attributed it to the forces’ preoccupation with law and order.
“Why the police are not able to restrict the circulation of drugs has a lot to do with their constant involvement in the law and order problems that Kashmir has no dearth of,” he said.
However, he said that constant efforts are being made to curb the drug menace and public has to play important role in it. (KNO)