Cases of drug abuse, drug addiction, drug overdose are on a rise in the valley. Majority of it is attributed to the fact that our neighbour, in a desperate bid to finance Violence is trying hard to innovate new ideas. Since Neighbour Country’s hawala networks embedded in apple trade and medical seats was totally uprooted by NIA and its sister agencies terror financing in the valley was almost brought to a grinding halt. The fact that incidences of stone pelting have drastically reduced is a testimony to the serious crunch in net flow of cash in the valley. Thus they have opted to a much easier option i.e. to hook the population on recreational drugs. A entity is almost legally produced on home turf and can be easily made available through import from the poppy fields of Afghanistan. It is not only observers but it is also proved a number of times that the items often recovered from an infiltrating terrorist on LC held sizable amount of drugs such as heroine and brown sugar. It is often speculated that these drugs act as a bus ticket for the Bellicose Outfits to travel from North Kashmir to the South. To understand the emerging challenges it is important to understand the basis of this operation. Thus, the topic will be covered in four parts. Opium paddy fields were found in some parts of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. But today they are rarely found due to the stringent law enforcement drives.
The second source of recreational drugs especially heroine is across the valley. The drugs are smuggled through the age old route across the LOC from POK into valley and to Jammu area and subsequently to rest of India. The source of this heroine comes from the famous Golden Crescentconsisting of Pakistan Afghanistan and Iran. Unfortunately all are our neighbours. With the takeover of Afghanistan by Taliban there has been no check on the production of drugs. With Pakistan at an intermediate position Drugs produced both in Afghan and Khyber Paktun Province find a steady consumer chain in India. The reports of AIIMS suggest that the majority of cases of substance abuse are in the age group of 18 to 33 yrs. What is even more alarming is the involvement of teenagers as young as 14 yrs getting ‘hooked up’ to drugs like heroine. Ironically Girls from valley have been seen actively involved. This clearly suggest the easy access of such potent silent killers in the valley. When we talk about Unemployment its a vast topic. Reasons associated to it are lack of guidance, career counselling, infrastructure, stable political environment.
Effects of Unemployment causes mental imbalance resulting into as Lack of self esteem, Constantly looked down by parents and relatives, Peer pressure, High degree of stress. This may result into situations where individuals tend to fall into denial and isolation. Where the Individual is steps away from his/her taste of freedom from all kindsof problem. Thus begins the cycle of addiction. The instability earlier was due to constant border disputes on the Indo Pak Border and later the Insurgency and Terrorism that followed on the 80’s. The region has been unstable for a long time. As late as 2018, curfews crackdowns and hard-line policing was prevalent. No one can fathom the amount of pain and hardship one has to go through to carry out daily basic activities in presence of so much security setup and so much strict law and order. Being stuck in Kashmir at that time was like stuck in a relentless never ending nightmare. A vicious cycle of injuries and death. Inspite of this level of policing the terror attacks and the subsequent SF actions resulted into loss of life and property. There was a great need felt to transmute and forget the personal and collective pain. The gruesome fact that you have to start your life from the scratch, coupled with harsh climate during winters is not a cup tea for weak hearted. It is these weak hearted individuals who find solace in drugs and try to lose themselves into pseudo peace and tranquillity. Today a man with a gun in his hand is less dangerous than a man holding a small crumpled packet of recreational drug in the dark alleys of towns and villages of Kashmir. Loss of youth is as good as wiping an entire generation from a battlefield. We can very well attribute this to the diversification of old Pakistani saying bleeding India with 1000 cuts.
Rising cases of Substance abuse, over dose, Non availability of rehabilitation centres at grass–root level increases problem exponentially, deaths related to overdose, increase in domestic violence cases, increase in crimes committed under influence.
Statistically speaking the number of cases registered during the pre-conflict era, between 1980 and 1990, the total number of patients taking psychiatric treatment in Jammu and Kashmir were 10,000. Of them only 189 came for substance abuse. Most were abusing cannabis. Only a few working in the tourism sector, who had an interface with foreigners, were into heroin. Today drug abuse is so rampant that according to the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre in AIIMS over six lakh people in Jammu and Kashmir are victims of drug abuse. The patient-intake records at the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS) Srinagar, a premium rehabilitation facility, attests to the problem’s spiralling nature. In 2016, 489 drug abusers reported into the facility, the number grew exponentially to 7,420 in 2019. In 2020, it dropped to 3,536, but that is attributed to the COVID-19 lockdown. Learly the Drugs are now turning out to be one of the front runners for destabilisation of the Kashmir Region along side the dying flames of terrorism.
Terrorism in India is always linked with external agents operating safely under the wings of Pakistani Army or the ISI. With the recent developments in the Geopolitical scenario in Pakistan and the much expected overthrowingof the PTI in the Pakistani Parliament it is safe to assume that the Pakistani Government has a very less cash flow. With the unchecked aid from US to fight terrorism dried up and the government on the verge to faulter on the earlier massive loan repayment, coupled with stringent protocols that need to be implemented to receive any kind of bailout from IMF, the high table in Pakistan that plans and monitors the Kashmir Terrorism is probably bankrupt. The drugs as discussed earlier are easily available produced in the country. Some of the perks of having a seat at high table of Golden Crescent. With a steady consumer chain available in Kashmir and for that matter the entire India, cash generated in Drugs distribution can be redirected to finance terrorism. A senior official in the Srinagar district administration said that militancy in Kashmir is 90 per cent financed by the narcotic trade. The money involved is huge. Consider this: One gram of heroin is available for Rs.1,200-1,500 in Kupwara, but in Srinagar peddlers charge Rs. 2,500-3,000 for it. There are frequent seizures of consignments coming from Pakistan. According to JKP 36.08 kilograms of pure heroin and 49.7 kilograms of brown sugar were recovered from different parts of Kashmir in 2020. But experts fear this is only the tip of the iceberg. Thus a lot of cash flow can be generated by just mere distribution of cocaine and heroin. One which Pakistan can term as easy cash for terror financing.September 2021, an NIA charge sheet filed in a narco-terrorism case revealed that operatives of terror outfits such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen were behind the Jammu and Kashmir drug trade.
The prospect of quick money is a major trigger. Initially, the prospective individual are identified by their social and economic status in society. Once identified these individualare introduced to these drugs the initial sessions are free and easily accessible, but as an individual hooks on to heroin, they start to charge Rs.2,500 a smoke. Soonleft penniless, individual find themselves in secluded alleys after dark, passing on envelopes to youths. Addiction is rampant. Addicts becoming peddlers to secure a cash flow. The increasing crime graph in Kashmir may be linked to the spike in heroin abusers, with users turning to burglary and even murder in their desperation for the drug. This is where minor frictions with SF personnel such as grenade attacks, hit and run, attack on civilian administration are planned and executed. A helpless addict in order to get a daily dose can go lengths without thinking about repercussions. This jugular vein of addicts can become a potential weapon for all foreign and internal anti national elements.
Ideas, Opinions and Views expressed in articles are Writer’s own and may not be in accord with those of SUBAH KASHMIR