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Drug terrorism ensnares Jammu and Kashmir youths

Youths from Jammu and Kashmir are being routinely pulled into the clutches of drug terrorism—the increasingly popular tool of terrorists. Most of the terrorists of this age are drug addict individuals, who stepped into the drug world and were lured into the path of terrorism.

Drug money, derived from the narcotic trade in Afghanistan’s poppy fields to the Kashmir valley, is the major source of terrorism funds. Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is funded by this source to carry out its activities in J&K.

The Kashmir valley region is a drug smuggling hotspot with gangs operating from both sides of the Line of Control (LOC). As a result, drugs like cannabis or opium is readily available there.

Drug supply is mostly carried out via the trading posts between India and Pakistan situated in J&K, as can be understood via the numerous drug busts have been carried out from these trade centres. The JK police recovered 114 kilograms of brown sugar from the Salamabad Trade Facilitation Centre in January 2014. Earlier, in September 2013, 1.2 kilograms of brown sugar was recovered from Tangdhar, and a month earlier, the army recovered 10 kilograms of cocaine from Sheri.

In areas such as Jammu, where electronic vigilance is not very strong, drugs are passed covertly through PVC pipes, under the fence, and via terrorists infiltrating the region.

Terrorists use drugs as an aid to carry out their requisite activities. Steroid shots are used to brave the cold climate and the infiltration hardships while high drug doses are used for the suicide bombers going in for attacks.

There are inputs citing the number of drug addicts in the Kashmir Division to be as high as two lakhs. The survey carried out by the United Nations International Drug Control Program (UNDCP) set the number at 70,000.

Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital (SMHS) Community Centre, which provides drug abuse treatment, cites data which shows that 86% percent of patients are aged below 35 years. Apart from the youth population who form the major percentage of drug addicts, now even schoolchildren, including girls, are being pulled into the cycle.

The reasons are many behind the tendency of young people taking to drugs; apart from the obvious socio-political disturbances in the region, are the usual problems faced by teens and youth, involving growing up pangs, broken relationships and academic failures. Peer pressure, easy money availability, parental failure and the propagation of damaging information such as drugs bringing happiness and not being addictive, also play a huge role in the rise of drug abuse.

There were originally only two de-addiction centres, one of which was set up by the JK police. A few other centres are also there, run by non-governmental organisations, with others coming forward to help with the issue. The Indian Army has also opened de-addiction centres in Srinagar and Baramulla. However, with the huge number of drug addicts, the region still faces a great shortage.

This number needs to be drastically increased, especially in rural areas and interior regions where the problem is the greatest. The Primary Health Centres need trained doctors, as certain aspects of the de-addiction process—such as relapse prevention and psychological counselling– need a specialized approach.

Cross-border drug supply has to be completely cut off. The trade routes which are being used in this manner need to be investigated and on no condition should goods be allowed to pass unchecked.

The State Government needs to up their game in clamping down on internal supply routes used to carry drugs such as medical opiates. The punishment vested out to the offenders and the suppliers must be strong enough to discourage the crime. Assistance from the Indian Army also shouldn’t be shied away from as their presence in remote areas along with their reach of medical infrastructure, could prove to be of immense help.

Moreover, the common people need to be made aware of the consequences of drug use and made to understand that drug use is a problem which can be very well dealt with. The taboo associated with drug use must also be removed to enable a healthier de-addiction process.

The alarming rise in drug abuse in Jammu and Kashmir over the last decade is breaking down the mental condition of the present generation. If not dealt with quickly and efficiently, this will lead to serious social problems in the region in the coming years.

However, with the police and the army having come forward to tackle the issue, one can be assured that a unified and cohesive approach will lead to a quick resolution. Residents of JK have overcome situations much more odious and given proper assistance and direction, the drug issue can be eliminated as well.

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