BY SUHAIL KHAN
Kashmir, known as the “Paradise on Earth,” is struggling with a rising drug problem that has led to an increase in crime and violence. The social fabric of the society has been negatively impacted, with many young men and women turning to drugs and pushing them into a life of crime. The crime rate in the Valley has shocked the community over the past six months, shedding light on the growing drug problem plaguing the area..
As per the National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India, conducted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment through the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi, there are nearly 10 lakh drug addicts in Jammu and Kashmir.
Also as per the data, 108,000 males and 36,000 females were found using cannabis in Jammu and Kashmir, while 534,000 males and 8,000 females were found in the dragnet of opioids, and 168,000 males and 8,000 females were found using sedatives of different kinds.
Likewise, 127,000 males and 7,000 females were noticed using inhalants, and a large number of males and females were addicts of cocaine, amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), and hallucinogens in Jammu and Kashmir.
A recent study by the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS), Srinagar, has revealed that J&K has surpassed Punjab in drug abuse cases. The figures shared by the Centre are from the health ministry’s 2018 national survey on substance use disorders, which was conducted across India, including the erstwhile state of J&K.
Another study suggests that the younger generation aged around 15 to 35 years are becoming involved in drugs at an alarming rate in Kashmir.
Kashmir, often referred to as Paradise on Earth, is struggling with an uncertain future as it grapples with a growing social and mental ailment. The region, a dream location for many, is giving a headache to all, from higher government to ordinary citizens. The drug addiction problem has led to social problems, including crime, violence, and the breakdown of family systems.
In the last six months, horrific events have been occurring often, pushing the society closer to collapse.
A citizen of south Kashmir’s Kehribal in Anantnag killed his own mother on October 31, 2022, and then concocted a false narrative with a friend to deceive the public and the authorities by attributing the crime to his relatives.
In December 2022, the Anantnag area of South Kashmir witnessed another brutal murder. A man assaulted his family members and neighbours with a wooden log, killing three people—including his mother—and injured seven others.
On March 13, 2023, a man was apprehended for murdering a young woman, slicing up her corpse, and then discarding the parts across the Budgam area.
A drug addict son killed his elderly mother by strangling her on March 30, 2023 in the Dangerpora neighborhood of Sopore in the Baramulla region of north Kashmir.
In the Kupwara district of north Kashmir on April 3, 2023, a man was put behind the bars after murdering his little daughter.
The situation in Kashmir is particularly concerning because drug usage among youth is on the rise.
Many people are more susceptible to drug abuse due to lack of employment options, constant conflict, and societal pressures. The situation is made worse by the ease with which narcotics may be obtained and by the impunity with which drug traffickers operate.
Recent tragedies in Kashmir have brought the issue of drug usage to the forefront, highlighting the critical need to address this problem in our society. The impact of drug addiction is not limited to the individual user but extends to their families and communities as well. It is a problem that requires a collective effort to combat and prevent the loss of our youth to this disease.
Government officials and civil society organisations have called for joint efforts to create a drug-free society. To tackle the issue, the government must adopt a multifaceted approach. This includes cracking down on drug traffickers and suppliers to stem the supply of drugs, providing drug addicts with access to treatment and rehabilitation, and creating job opportunities for young people.
Drug addiction has led to social problems such as crime, violence, and the breakdown of family systems. The devastating consequences of this problem are a harsh reality that cannot be ignored. It is crucial for the government and civil society organizations to work together to find solutions and prevent further harm.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police, in collaboration with civil society organisations, have been working tirelessly to eradicate drug use from the state. However, the responsibility of creating a drug-free society also falls on the general population, who must contribute their efforts to this crucial cause. It is only through collective action and collaboration that we can hope to eliminate the scourge of drug addiction from our society.
In the first three months of 2023, 75 complaints under the NDPS Act were reported in a single district of Kashmir’s Baramulla.
Of the 7 drug traffickers caught under the PSA, 113 have been apprehended, according to available statistics. This is the case in other regions of Kashmir, where not only the number of children but also the number of girls involved in drug usage, is increasing at an alarming rate.
Senior police officials feel that eradicating the drug problem and protecting the kids requires the cooperation of all segments of society. They argue that neither the police nor society can confront this dangerous mission of eradicating our younger technologies on their own.
The burgeoning drug epidemic within the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, according to top cops, is the “greatest challenge facing society presently as it demands a concerted approach from all stakeholders to reduce the evil.”
The author is a journalist
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.