Drug trafficking and substance abuse
Of late, Kashmir has turned into a heaven of drug traffickers and drug abuse is emerging a biggest challenge to Kashmir society as more and more people, particularly the youth, all falling prey to this menace. A cursory look on the local newspaper is enough to suggest that the menace it touching nefarious heights as seizure of drugs and related arrested have become a permanent feature that appears in newspapers on daily basis. Besides the records of drug de-addiction centres are enough to indicate that the problem is graver than what is seen superficially.
Just five years ago about 500 people used to visit the de-addiction center of Government Medical College in Srinagar annually for treatment and rehabilitation purposes. But the number has gone, astonishingly, ten times up in past five years. Furthermore, the official figures suggest that more than two thousand drug addicts visited the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS) for treatment, detoxification, and rehabilitation purposes from April to November last year. Fact of the matter is that the numbers could be much higher than what are available officially for the simple reason than only a small percentage of such addicts open up publicly and decide to go for de-addiction. Though a number of doctors, civil society activists and the concerned government agencies are trying their best to help the addicts to overcome the menace and start their lives afresh, the menace continues to grow in size with every passing day. Actually drug trafficking and abuse can’t be dealt with official machinery, few social organization and doctors alone. It needs a strong and collective response from the citizenry. People need to understand that those who grow bhang in their agricultural farms and those who pump in heroine and brown sugar into Kashmir are the worst enemies of Kashmiris. They may be earning money while doing so but that money is being earned at the cost of the health and lives of Kashmiri youth. It is high time that people wake up to this disaster in making and fight the battle against drug trafficking. Religious leaders, particularly the Imams of Masjids can play a vital role in fighting this battle. Every Friday, the Imams lead congregational prayers and give sermons about various issues. People listen to them, respect them and their word has an impact. Let these Imams talk about the menace during these sermons. Let them make people aware about the disastrous outcome of the menace. The mohalla and village elders too need to play their role. As responsible citizens they should keep an eye on their respective areas and if they find someone involved in such crimes, they should take help from law enforcing agencies to stop the crime. Kashmir’s civil society too needs to wake up and make the talk of narcotics part of public discourse. The battle has to start from every household. Parents need to have close communication with their children so that they can easily notice any behavioral change in them that may be an indication that the children have chosen some wrong path. It is a battle that is to be fought by one and all. Any delay or complacency would prove disastrous for the society as a whole.