Right to live is a fundamental right guaranteed under the constitution. And besides entitled to a secure life, this right includes access to safe air, drinking water and food– the three essentials we draw our sustenance from. Leave alone deficiency, even lack of quality in any of these, adversely impacts our living. We cannot imagine a state governed under supremacy of constitution and rule of law compromising on these basics. But as happens to other fundamental rights in this part of the planet, the right to live a safe and secure life continues to be violated with impunity. While we are grimacing under various harsh laws related with our security, there is little or no concern seen on part of the government—present or past, elected or non-elected—with regard to what we inhale, drink and eat. A holistic approach will require the space of a voluminous book. We will concentrate on a report that has appeared in the GK some time before. I was shocked on how monster of greed is stalking this region and running a parallel mafia regime. Without bunkers, of course.
As reported in the GK, 10 September, during a spot inspection by the Food Safety Department it surfaced that some unscrupulous people in the Hyderpora, Srinagar were emptying damaged and expired five litter packs of edible mustard oil (Vinakya Brand) and illegally filled into non-food grade drums and barrels otherwise used for fungicides and insecticides. They would send the oil back to Jaipur for repacking and relabeling. Naturally this poisonous oil would have once again circulated in the market with a fresh label and new manufacturing and expiring date inscribed on it. It was reported that some four thousand litters of adulterated cooking oil was seized by the department. May be a case have been filed against the perpetrators. But given the lack of seriousness witnessed so far by the authorities in dealing with such elements and the prevailing corruption that has spawned to a 'glittering' culture in our society, there is not much for optimism. This is one raid at a tip off. What about the thousand such like incidents where companies and their agents/ retailors have joined in selling repacked and expired food items. And how many times the consumers would have been fore-fed the poison in the garb of edible oil. That barrels meant for insecticides and pesticides have been used for emptying shows how callously insensitive the rapacious sellers were towards life. How many people would have fallen victim to these materialistic demons. Their trust looted, innocence defiled and they left mourned. How unpardonable the wicked act is. We are cheated not only in money we give but delivered a collateral damage. Of inviting the dreaded diseases with all the dangerous implications for the family and its future. Some kill for honor, for national flag, for ransom, for being xenophobe or drugged to religious opium. There is blood discernible, everywhere and the culprit severely hated and condemned. This silent killer, in contrary, has the hallo of the saint, robes of the noble and fame of the respectable citizen and even the mosque's front-row stature, all in one. Others mentioned above kill us after raising the eye brow and peddling the excuse. But this Shylock kills us after exchange of greetings and patting us with laughs. The more painful kill.
This kind of onslaught our society is subjected to has spread its poisonous tentacles to nearly all healthcare consumables as well. The government's ineffectual and tardy approach to act against the influx of sub-standard drugs has made Kashmir ' heaven' for spurious drug manufacturers of India. A report published in GK on 29 July this year is harrowing. As per report 81 per cent of total drug samples taken by Drug and Food Control Organization from Kashmir were found sub-standard. More shocking was that many sub-standard drugs were supplied by JK Medical Supplies Corporation Ltd., which is a government agency. Only some years before a medicinal corruption racket was busted where life-saving drugs were found contaminated with fatal stuff. The big fishes(ministers included) though found involved were left untouched. There were other big barons—the class I have described above— who were found involved in supplying adulterated milk, chili and turmeric powder. After the usual outcry of few days in the media died down, it was business as usual. The markets are flooded with all kinds of drinks, beverages, fruits, vegetables and other items. It is common knowledge that much of what is instreaming the valley is far from meeting the parameters devised by the FSD .Misbranding is another fraud played to deceive the consumers. Hindustan Coca Coala Beverage was recently imposed a penalty of three lakh rupees by a local court in a case of misbranding. The fruits like cucumber, water melon, pomegranate, orange etc. are injected with chemical like Ethephon that accelerates pre-mature ripening and pigmentation. Ethephon is a pesticide. Banana too is ripened in stores using some dangerous chemical powder. The poultry chickens are raised on growth-promoting chemicals not without harmful affects. Recently Doctor Association in Kashmir led by Dr Nisarul Hassan, quoting two studies, warned that poisonous industrial dyes are being used in the popular multi-cuisine Kashmiri Waswan which can ' cause allergies, organic damage and birth defects'. The increasing rate of cancer in Kashmir has one main reason in consuming the adulterated food.
We should not allow these vampire bats to play with the life of innocent common people. Some occasional raids and collecting of samples here and there cannot deter such criminals. The task is gigantic and demands strenuous efforts by the government and the concerned department to check and eliminate the menace of food and drug adulteration. There should be regular, organized monitoring and supervision of the market and FSD should be made a statutory body with full authority and independence. There cannot be any better application of the dreaded PSA than applying it on these villainous and shame-sucking bunch of thugs. The culpable should be booked under harsh criminals laws and punished severely.