“He is my only son, but I am pleading police to keep him behind the bars and save him from this menace. All these months, my life has been miserable watching him doing drugs and everyone in the area cursing my family. I can’t even wish bad for my son but may be he will get rid of drugs in police custody” says 55-year-old Jameela Begum (name changed), a resident of Sopore
Her son, Arafat, 23 (name changed), was recently held by a team of Sopore police for being involved in drug abuse.
His was one of 20 cases of drug addicts being held by police in Sopore between January and February 2021, according to official estimates.
There are hundreds of parents like Jameela Begum who want their children to be safe and get rid of substance abuse in north Kashmir’s Sopore area.
Official data say that the number of drug addicts in Sopore area is showing an increase and past few years, few deaths due to drug overdose have also been reported. Drugs have been a scourge in Sopore for years now – with people asking for stringent measures to tackle this menace.
While talking to Kashmir Despatch, a top police official said that strict laws may help the administration in curbing the menace in the area.
“Whenever law enforcement agencies arrest any drug peddler or a dealer, he/she gets released in no time. We need tough laws to deal with drug menace,” the official said.
He said that judiciary has an important role to play in this matter.
“We know that people involved in substance abuse can’t be put in jail for a longer time but there should be some strict laws that can help us in putting a blanket ban on the substance abuse or taking strict measures against drug dealers,” he said.
The NDPS Act provides stringent provisions for offences related to drug abuse and trafficking.
“[But] despite the fact that major offences under the aforesaid Act are non-bailable, it has been observed that in several cases the drug offenders secure acquittal on technical grounds.”
The official said that large number of offenders in NDPS cases are acquitted due to non-compliance of mandatory provisions and the prescribed procedure.
Health officials in Sopore say the adminstration needs to open more rehabilitation centres for addicts as there are only few existing ones.
“The drug addicts need rehabilitation so there should be rehab centers to take proper care of these addicts but strict measures to deal with drug dealers.”
Locals in Sopore said that that administration must run awareness campaigns in schools and colleges about the drug menace and try to understand what drives the youth of Sopore to drugs.
Station House Officer Sopore, Azim Khan told Kashmir Despatch that Sopore police is taking strict steps to save the youth from drug abuse and help them in living a reasonable life.
“Police is doing it’s part very well but we must understand that in this fight against drug abuse, support of society, religous clerics, people and parents is a must. We have to fight a collective battle against the drug menace and save our youth from drugs,” SHO Sopore said.
He said in year 2020 around 30 peddlers were arrested while sofar this year 09 peddlers were held.