Battling Drugs: In Kashmir 982 Kanals Freed, 18 FIRs Filed, 1,000 Kanals Cleared

   

by Insha Shirazi

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SRINAGAR: In a bid to prevent growing cannabis and poppy, authorities in Kashmir have successfully cleared vast swathes of land from poppy production. Between April 1 and May 17, 986 kanals of land, up from 662 Kanals in 2022, were cleansed off poppy cultivation. The joint efforts of excise, revenue, and police agencies resulted in the clearance of 1,000 Kanal (122 acres or 50 hectares) of land, putting an end to the growth of poppies, which are a source of opium and heroin.

Comparing the current year’s achievements with the previous year, officials provided a breakdown that showed a substantial increase in the land cleared. Last year, during the same period, 662 kanals of land were cleared, while this year saw an impressive rise to 982 Kanal.

Pankaj Kumar Sharma, the commissioner of excise for Jammu and Kashmir, shed light on the operations, stating, “The enforcement of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act includes the eradication of cannabis and poppy. The poppy seeding season typically spans from October to March, with sampling taking place in March, followed by a fruitful stage in April and May.”

Furthermore, Sharma emphasized the coordinated efforts employed to combat poppy cultivation, saying, “We have successfully cleared a maximum of 1,094 kanals of land in 10 districts of Kashmir, with the support of the revenue and police departments. Additionally, we have filed 18 FIRs against those involved in poppy cultivation. Among the districts cleared is Kulgam, where 506 kanals of land was previously used for poppy seed cultivation. We have also conducted surveys and actively sought feedback from the public. Prohibiting poppy planting is crucial to preventing drug abuse in Kashmir.”

Recognizing the grave consequences of drug abuse, Sharma acknowledged, “Our society is being devastated by drug addiction, often referred to as narco-terrorism, which stems from poppy seeds. Drug abuse has severe negative impacts on communities, families, and entire regions. While acknowledging the benefits of poppy seeds, we must also consider their harmful side effects.”

The situation in Kashmir becomes even more concerning when considering the statistics. A recent report from AIIMS’ National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre revealed that a worrisome 95 percent of drug users in the region are addicted to the deadly drug heroin, which has infiltrated Kashmiri society over the past five years. Disturbingly, 90 percent of these addicts fall within the age group of 17 to 33, indicating a significant challenge for the region. Jammu and Kashmir is believed to have one of the highest rates of opioid use in the country.

A concrete example of the commitment to eradicating illegal crops can be seen in the efforts at Dupatyar village in Bijbehara, Anantnag district. The local police, revenue officials, and the commissioner of the excise department, Pankaj Kumar Sharma, joined forces to remove crops in this region. A total of 3 Kanal and 10 Marla of unauthorized farming were swiftly destroyed in Anantnag, while similar actions were taken in several other villages in the Kulgam and Shopian districts.

It is important to note that cannabis and poppies are not allowed to be grown in India due to their association with opium production, a highly addictive drug. However, under strict supervision and with proper permission, poppy cultivation can be permitted in small areas for therapeutic purposes.

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