A cluster of villages in Bijbehara remains in the grip of drugs

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Bijbehara: Last month, a 20-year-old boy at a village of Waghama in south Kashmir's Bijbehara tehsil died in his sleep. According to the residents, the young man was a drug addict and died due to overdose, although the hospital authorities could not confirm it.

"He was brought dead", said a doctor at Sub District Hospital, Bijbehara.

The deceased boy was a known drug addict and had suffered "blackouts several times due to drugs."

"He used to abuse prescription drugs and take cannabis", said Mohamamd Sikandar Baghat Lumberdar of Waghama village.

The village comprising over 1000 households has been caught in the menace of consumption of hardest drugs for the last many years. Around 60 youth between the ages of 15 to 25 take different forms of drugs, ranging from cannabis to heroin.

"The menace is spreading uncontrollably in our village and other areas", said Baghat.

At any given time, one could see many young men jabbing drug-filled syringes into their arms or smoking weed in paddy fields and thick apple orchards sprawling over hundreds of kanals.

Besides Waghama, over a dozen villages including Wopzan, Marhama, Takibal, Zorpara, Gund Nowroz, Katritaing, Veeri, Tulkhana Hassanpora and Sangam are involved in the drugs.

Ghulam Rasool, Tehsildar Bijbehara told Greater Kashmir that these villages produce poppy, which is one of the main sources of opium consumption in the area. "Every year, we launch anti-drug drives and destroy the poppy fields", he said.

According to the official, the police registered 73 FIRs under NDPS in 2021. The official said that they were tightening noose on the pharmacies, selling psychotropic drugs among the substance abusers.

Dr Barqul Afaq, a psychiatrist at Sub District Hospital Bijbehara said that they have received around 80 - 90 drug addict patients since January this year.

"These patients come to seek help when they suffer from withdrawal symptoms or want to leave drugs", said Afaq.

Afaq said that there is a pressing need for a drug de-addiction cum rehabilitation centre in the area.

"We have already submitted a proposal for it. We hope it is set up soon", he said.

The absence of village level committees is seen as one of the major failures in keeping the menace at bay.

Mohamamd Ramzan, a resident of Sangam said that local committees could provide a crucial role in keeping drugs off the society.

"But unfortunately such committees don't exist in the area", he said.

Mudasir Ahamd, another resident, alleged that the government was doing little to contain the menace.

"The government must get to the bottom of drug menace and arrest those who smuggle hard drugs like heroin in the area", he added.

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