rugs are extinguishing the very light of our society in Kashmir. If we do not wake up to this calamity immediately, our generations will be finished; there will be a living dead in each household.
I am not being alarmist. There are so many young people whose lives have been destroyed by drugs. It is serious.
Hard drugs — cocaine, heroin — have made their way into our neighbourhoods and villages. This is in addition to opioids like codeine, sedatives, anxiolytics and other over-the-counter drugs. I have heard about cases where youngsters were found addicted to paint thinners, polish etc.
The use of hard drugs is not limited to a few cases. A dear friend and a leading psychiatrist of Kashmir, Dr Arshad Hussain, tells me that the situation on the ground is scary and if there is no immediate and comprehensive response at the societal level, we may lose a generation or more to this menace.
The target of those who want drugs to dissipate our youth are targeting children — class 7 to 12 students. It is a silent but lethal war against our children. Can you imagine that cocaine has a Kashmiri name now — the addicts call each dose a ‘line’.
Though the problem pervades Kashmir, the way this drug menace is spreading has a pattern too. A few years ago, there was a sudden rise in drug addiction among youth in North Kashmir. Then there was a phase when it reached an alarming level in Srinagar city. Currently, it is at its peak in the South Kashmir districts. Several doctors told me that they see such patients coming from almost everywhere and most of them are now cases of hard drugs addiction.
We — all of us — need to understand the devastation this drug menace is going to cause to us if it is not halted immediately. It is going to destroy everything permanently.
There is an urgent need to raise awareness about the severity of this issue within our communities. Parents, school teachers, religious leaders, health professionals and reporters, everyone needs to take it seriously. Those who see youngsters doing drugs or intoxicated anywhere need to intervene. Parents need to raise their vigil. Teachers/schools need to keep their eyes open.
The identity of those addicted must not be hidden by families only because of the fear of social stigma. There is a need to expose the chain of suppliers so that those who are killing our young by luring them to these hard drugs are identified.
The way this drug mafia is operating in Kashmir, there is absolutely no doubt that it is a well-organised and powerful network. No one is going to come to our help. People have to do it all by themselves. Vigil and awareness are key. This is urgent.
The piece first appeared on the author’s Facebook timeline