Drug-related crimes have been on the rise in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in recent years. The state's strategic location makes it a transit point for the illegal drug trade in Kashmir. The porous borders and difficult terrain make it challenging for law enforcement agencies to prevent the smuggling of drugs and other contraband into and out of J&K.
Heroin, cannabis, and prescription drugs are among the most commonly trafficked drugs in valley. Drug addiction is also a significant problem in J&K, particularly among young people. Many addicts turn to crime to fund their addiction, which is leading to a rise in other types of crime, such as theft and burglary.
The J&K police and other law enforcement agencies have been taking steps to crack down on drug trafficking. They have been conducting raids on drug dens and arresting drug dealers. Additionally, awareness campaigns have been launched to educate people about the dangers of drug addiction and to encourage them to report drug-related crimes.
It is worth noting that the ongoing insurgency in J&K is somewhat making it difficult to tackle drug-related crimes effectively.
Drug abuse-related crimes in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is having a significant impact on individuals, families, and society as a whole. The drug abuse has led to a range of physical and mental health problems, including addiction, overdose, and other serious health conditions.
Cases studies by the experts have said that drug addiction is leading to increased domestic violence, as addicts are becoming aggressive and unpredictable when they are under the influence of drugs.
They say that the addiction is also leading to child abuse and neglect, as addicts prioritise their drug use over the needs of their children.
Besides, substance abuse is increasing the risk of infectious diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis, which is having a significant impact on public health.
By addressing drug addiction and related crimes in Kashmir, it is possible to improve public health and safety, and to reduce the negative impact of drug addiction on individuals and society as a whole.
The addiction has also led to a rise in other types of crime, such as theft and burglary, as addicts may turn to crime to fund their addiction. As the substance is mostly expensive, and many addicts struggle to support their habit. This is leading to financial strain on individuals and families, and can also impact the local economy.
Besides, drug abuse is slowly leading to social isolation, damaged relationships, and other negative consequences that is having impact individuals and families.
Law enforcement say that the illegal drug trade is often linked to terrorist groups, who use the profits from drug trafficking to fund their activities. This is creating security risks in Union Territory.
Addressing drug abuse-related crimes in J&K requires a multifaceted approach, including prevention efforts, drug treatment and rehabilitation programs, and law enforcement efforts to crack down on drug trafficking and related crimes. By addressing drug abuse-related crimes in J&K, it is possible to reduce the negative impacts of drug addiction on individuals, families, and society as a whole.
In recent years, there has been an increase in incidents of cybercrime in J&K, including cases of online fraud, hacking, and other types of digital crimes. Additionally, drug trafficking and smuggling have also been identified as growing problems in Kashmir .
Security concerns and a lack of transparency is making it difficult to get an accurate picture of the state of crime in Union Territory.
Another area of concern is cybercrime. The widespread use of the internet and mobile phones in J&K has made it easier for criminals to engage in activities such as identity theft, phishing, and online fraud.
Security agencies in Jammu and Kashmir are tackling insurgency since last over three decades. With Pakistan-sponsored insurgency receding, the security agencies have trained their focus on drug peddlers. In 2022, under Narcotic Drugs Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, the police registered 1,021 cases and arrested 1700 drug peddlers, including 138 notorious peddlers. During the same time, the security agencies seized enormous quantities of contraband, including 212 kilograms of charas, 56 kilograms of heroin, 13 kilograms of brown sugar, 4.355 tonnes of poppy straw and 1.567 tonnes of fukki.
The government data showed, at least 1.44 lakh drug abusers are consuming cannabis while opioid addiction is prevalent among 5.34 lakh men and 8,000 women, and sedative addiction among 1.6 lakh men and 8,000 women.
Health experts suspect that these figures could be much lower than the actual numbers as many drug users are loath to open up or seek medical care fearing ostracism.
At any rate, the figure is a significant spike from 2022, when a report by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of AIIMS in June estimated the total number of drug abusers in Jammu & Kashmir at over 6 lakh for that year, placing the Union Territory fifth in the country among all States and Union Territories.
The stringent action is warranted, because drug peddling is emerging as a “huge threat” in Kashmir, second only to “terrorism.” Over the last few years, the police have launched a very visible crackdown on drugs.
Data shows a grim picture
Between 2010 and 2021, a total of 9,367 cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act were registered in Jammu and Kashmir. These figures included the Ladakh region until 2019, when the former state of Jammu and Kashmir was divided into two Union Territories – Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir. However, the sparsely populated Ladakh region does not account for many cases.
More than 6,000 cases were registered in the last five years. Around 77% of these 6,000 cases were related to drug trafficking in commercial quantities.
The numbers reflect intensifying police action in drug-related cases. A perusal of the National Crime Records Bureau’s data shows that, in 2010, there were 421 cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act across the former state of Jammu and Kashmir, which then included Ladakh. In 2021, there were 1,681 cases in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, excluding Ladakh. The law prosecutes offenders for consumption, possession and trafficking of drugs.
Despite the rise in cases, few have gone to trial. According to police data for the last three years, there were 4,066 cases under the anti-narcotics law. Only 478 cases were disposed of by the courts. While 147 cases ended in convictions, in 281 cases, the accused were acquitted. In addition, 32 cases were quashed by the court in 2021, police data shows.
(Author is senior staff Greater Kashmir)
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.