How drugs devastate families in Kashmir

Srinagar: Mohammad Subhan, (name change) a resident of South Kashmir’s Anantnag district struggles to help his lone son overcome heroin and opium addiction. His son, who is 27-year-old youth, started taking drugs at the age of 17. Subhan, a shopkeeper by profession, wanted his son to become an advocate. However, all his dreams have almost shattered now.

“He initially started smoking along with his friends when he was in school and I got to know about it later. When he reached high secondary, he started taking Charas and later on opium. He did not go to college as he became a drug addict. I came to know that he was introduced to a drug peddler by one of his friends in our village. Firstly, he was given drugs free of cost and then he started selling things at home like TV, bike to buy drugs,” Subhan told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS).

He feels helpless now. “I tried to stop him from taking drugs but failed. I once took him to a drug de-addiction centre and kept there for a month. Once he returned home, he again started taking drugs. The drugs have destroyed the lives of three members in our family, me, my son and wife,” he said.

Subhan says after taking drugs, he became more prone to aggressive behaviour, resorting to violence at home when denied money.

Like Subhan, drugs have destroyed hundreds of families in Kashmir.

It has been seen that unemployment is the biggest reason for the youth to get hooked to drugs. Another reason is when one of the friends get involved in the abuse, other friends getting attracted.

There are even some medical shops who are selling drugs to youth. In South Kashmir’s Qazigun area, a boy recently died during a night after consuming drugs.

“He had taken drugs at home and then could not wake up in the morning. His family members took him to the hospital where doctors declared him brought dead,” one of his relatives said. This boy was also the lone son of his parents.

Similarly, a boy died in a hotel at Pahalgam in Anantnag district in December last year. After investigation it was found that he died due to drugs. Police then arrested a drug peddler and three more youth.

Locals say drugs are easily available and youth fall prey easily. The most affected villages and areas in South Kashmir like Bijbehara, main town Anantnag, Asjipora, Shirpora, Kokernag, Sagam, Dooru and Verinag.

A gram of heroin is sold at between 3000 rupees and 4000 rupees. A police official said that Charas is cultivated along the banks of river Jehlum in South Kashmir. Similarly, Opium is grown from poppy seeds.

As per Jammu and Kashmir police figures, 1132 drug-related cases were registered in 2020. Around 1672 persons involved in drug smuggling and peddling were arrested. Around 35 drug peddlers were booked under Public Safety Act (PSA).

Likewise, 152.18 kgs of heroin were seized in 2020. Besides, 563.61kgs of charas/ganja and 22230.48kgs opium/poppy/cannabis derivatives were seized during the year. “We have made huge drug recoveries across Jammu and Kashmir. Police have worked hard to bust the narco trade. Many cases were challaned. Even some arrests were made outside Jammu and Kashmir to break the supply chain,” Dilbag Singh, Director General of Police, Jammu, and Kashmir had said.

An official at drug de-addiction centre in central Kashmir Srinagar said most patients are coming from four districts of South Kashmir where drugs are widely used.

“One of the main reasons is easy availability. There are lots of people who are involved in drug trade and cultivate drugs like Charas and opium,” the official said. (KINS)