By Akanksha Mittal:
After the Green Revolution in the 1970s and the militant attacks in the 1980s, looks like the state of Punjab has another major problem to combat: Drug Abuse. Yes, perhaps no part of the country is left untouched by the evil of Drug abuse. Punjab is just another addition to the long list of those who suffer under the pressure of this. Sharing the border with Pakistan makes Punjab the first transit point of drugs smuggled in India from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“Carriers”, as those transporting these drugs are called are locals from the villages of Punjab who are given discrete information about where to pick the drugs from and where to leave them for the next carrier to take them. Having Mobile SIM – cards issued to them from Pakistan prevents the Indian police from tracing calls made by these locals, given the close proximity of their operations with the Network Towers in Pakistan. It is from here that these drugs seep into other major drug consuming cities like Delhi, Pune etc. The figures are appalling. Currently, drugs worth 2000 crores are transiting the land of Punjab while approximately 355 packets of Heroine are exchanged in Punjab everyday! Here, it is important to note that perforation of drugs through the borders is not possible unless people from the army are involved in helping their easy movement.
The problem however, does not end at Trafficking. Punjab is also one of the major consumers of Drugs. Again, the close proximity to Pakistan makes access to them easy and cheap for the locals. According to reports by UNDP, Indian Express and Tehelka, around 73.5% of Punjab’s youth is addicted to drugs which are sold at a price as low as Rs. 25 per dose. The reasons for such indulgence are not quite surprising. Rampant unemployment amongst the youth owing to illiteracy and poverty which leads to a deprived psychological state is what leads them into the menace of drugs in cities like Jalandhar, Patiala, Bhatinda and Amritsar. While richer customers take to expensive drugs such as Poppy husk, cocaine, heroine etc, Iodex and petrol come to the rescue of the poor drug users.
It is undeniable that there have been efforts from the government wherein 88 De-Addiction Centers have been set up in the state by now. However, it is a different story that out of these 88, only 23 are official. Moreover, the treatment met out to the patients in these centers is inadequate and sometimes proves fatal, owing to the utter lack of sympathy with which drug addicts are handled there. The fact that a lot of illegal chemist shops are selling harmful drugs without prescription does not make things any better for the government of Punjab.
Perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel, with the presence of MPs like Ravneet Singh who started a 45 days long anti- drug march in the state. Also, it is essential for the government to realize that Rehabilitation Centers, more than De-Addiction Centers are what are actually needed to prevent the addicts from falling back into the trap of Drug Addiction, after being treated once. 100% family support not only strengthens the patients will power to fight the problem, but their confidence in the doctors also boosts the moral of the doctors taking care of people suffering from such dire mental trauma, as associated with drug addiction.
While organizations like the Red Cross and UNDP are doing their bit in collecting databases, holding de-addiction campaigns etc, it is important for the non-governmental sector of India to take it upon itself and try to bring about a change at the grassroots level. And, as far as our dear government and corruption at the borders is concerned, all we can do is just express our discontent with it, given our Right to Freedom of Expression!
This article has been inspired from a recent documentary called Glut – shared with us by The FLYP – special thanks to them. Do take out time to view this documentary below, or click here to see it on YouTube.
Image source: http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/8318156-every-year-over-06m-pakistanis-become-drug-addicts-said-official/content/65950564-a-drug-addict-self-injects-heroin-in-karachi-pakistan
It may seem difficult, but to overcome drug abuse is possible if we totally commit ourselves to the rehabilitation effort,