The state, known for widespread illegal cultivation of cannabis and its derivatives -- hashish, charas, and the very popular Malana Cream -- is being flooded by 'chitta' and pharmaceutical drugs, quite like its neighboring state, Punjab.
According to the Himachal Pradesh Police, data analysis of 'Register 29' maintained in all police stations to keep a track of drug peddlers reveal that about 60 percent of those active in the state have taken to 'chitta'. It has added a new dimension to the drug menace in the state, despite charas.
Data shows that out of a total of 2,307 active drug traffickers or peddlers in the state, 1,836 (80 percent) are from Himachal, 422 (18 percent) from other states and 49 (2 percent) are foreigners.
Chitta consumption has increased manifold in the past five years, also reflected in seizures by the police -- which registered a four-fold increase from 3.4 kg in 2017 to 14.9 kg in 2021. The growing market has seen many take to smuggling to afford the pricey drugs costing Rs 4,000 to Rs 6,000 per gm.
Once upon a time, the state drug headache was, for years, limited to illegal cannabis plantations in the Kullu Valley. According to sources, the demand is still high and the illegal business of the drug cartel is still booming.
Himachal Pradesh's ancient Aryan village of Malana is known all over the world as a haven for those looking for a high in the hills. An oily and aromatic strain of hashish called Malana Cream is considered to be the purest form of hashish and is derived by the locals from the cannabis grown illegally in the surrounding Parvati Valley.
The international popularity of the drug still brings thousands of tourists to the village. The economy of the area has boomed following the explosion of the demand for Malana Cream.
Malana Cream is not limited to Himachal Pradesh because it is trafficked to other states across the country.
Just a few days ago, Delhi Police's Special Cell arrested a drug trafficker and seized 30 kg Malana cream, also known as 'hashish', valued at Rs 18 crore from his possession in Alipur in the national capital.
The accused was identified as Rajesh Kumar (30), a resident of Khanna Khurd near Ludhiana in Punjab.
With the arrest of the drug trafficker, the Special Cell claimed to have unearthed an interstate syndicate involved in smuggling drugs in Delhi and its peripherals. The police had said that the syndicate has sold over 45 kg of 'malana cream' worth over Rs 28 crore in Delhi-NCR and Uttar Pradesh in the last three months.
To curb the use of drugs and trafficking, Himachal Pradesh Police recently took to social media with a tongue-in-cheek message warning drug smugglers against indulging in illegal activities unless they were willing to spend nights at the state's 'extremely cold' prison cells.
A few pharmaceutical firms were in the recent past caught illegally producing and selling opioids, including 'chitta' (adulterated heroin) in Himachal's Baddi near Solan, India's pharmaceutical hub.
The police each year launch special drives to destroy cannabis cultivated illegally over hundreds of acres. But what's most worrisome is the increasing number of people, particularly youth, getting hooked on 'chitta'.
An official said addicts from affluent families were turning peddlers to manage their daily 'chitta' doses and chains were being formed by roping in new vulnerable targets. (KB/IANS)