J&K 5th in poppy, cannabis cultivation

Jammu and Kashmir stands at number five in the list of states where poppy and cannabis cultivation is highest in the country.

The most recent annual report of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) said poppy cultivated on more than 358 acres of land in J&K had been destroyed. This is the fifth highest area-wise poppy crop destruction among the states in the country.

The other states where poppy cultivation was destroyed over a larger area are Jharkhand, Uttrakhand, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.

Also, J&K stood at number three among all states in terms of heroin seizure. In 2017 alone, 2017.46 kg of the lethal narcotic were seized from various parts of the state. The seizure is much higher than that of Himachal Pradesh or Uttar Pradesh.

“Major trafficking of heroin in the country takes place through Indo-Pakistan border mainly in the states of Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir. From these states heroin is smuggled into other states,” states the report.

Not just poppy and heroin, the report categorically states that “charas/hashish is derived from illicit cannabis cultivation by drug traffickers especially in the districts of south Kashmir and Kullu in Himachal Pradesh”. 

In the year of study, 33134 kgs of hashish were seized in J&K, fourth highest among all states.

The state also ranks high in seizure of tablets of abuse.

The report establishes the high saturation of illicit drugs in the state, which makes it easier for the people to lay hands on these.

Excise Commissioner M Raju asserted that his department has been relentlessly destroying illicit poppy and cannabis crop wherever it is detected.

“We are also educating people about various other crops they can cultivate legally and reap good returns,” he said.

However, many stakeholders believe that not much is being down to curb the growing menace in Kashmir.

“Kashmir has become the new destination on the Golden Crescent of heroin (a poppy derivative) and cannabis,” said Dr Yasir H Rather, Associate Professor and in-charge of Drug De-Addiction Center of Government Medical College Srinagar. Golden Crescent is the name given to the region spanning over mountains of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where illicit poppy trade and cultivation is very high.

He said that prevalent situation in Kashmir had worsened the scenario with low law enforcement and vigilance.

Ahfadul Mujtaba, IGP Crime Branch and Nodal Officer J&K for NCB, said that availability of illicit drugs including heroin and cannabis increases on the trafficking route.

“Unfortunately, drugs are penetrating into the state through Tangdhar area, Rajouri and along other parts of LoC,” he said.

He said that police, excise department and NCB were in collaboration to locate and curb illicit trade of drugs.