Kashmir has witnessed an alarming rise in narco-terrorism. Apathy shown by religious leaders has only added to the problem.
The Valley has witnessed an alarming rise in drug addiction in all socioeconomic classes of the region. Every hour, a new drug addict unfailingly enters the drug de-addiction centre in Kashmir. Srinagar's Government Medical College's Oral Substitution Therapy Centre reported only 489 cases in 2016, but breached the 10,000 mark in 2021. This alarming 2,000 percent spike in the last five years has sent shockwaves across the security apparatus and the government of Jammu and Kashmir. Srinagar and Anantnag districts of Kashmir Valley witness more than INR 3.7 crores being spent daily on drugs. Shopian and Pulwama districts have also shown the same trend for the last two years. They have also reported many deaths due to drug overdose. According to a survey by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and All India Institute of Medical Sciences in 2019, more than 4.5 percent of the total population use drugs. Of late, Pakistan has used a dual strategy of sending drugs as well as weapons to keep the conflict alive and tear the core of the valley's social fabric. Heroin smuggled from Pakistan is the most widely used opioid all over Kashmir. The cross-border smuggling of narcotics provides oxygen to terrorism via finances and, if not curbed soon, could ruin the lives of the region's youth. The finances generated from drugs such as heroin fund separatists' activities and spread other centrifugal tendencies. Increasingly, terror modules that have been busted in the recent past by security agencies show a more significant challenge to society and security. In June last year, a narco-terror module busted in the Baramulla district resulted in the arrests of ten people possessing heroin worth INR 45 crores along with Chinese grenades and four pistols. This terror module was operating in the whole of Jammu and Kashmir as well as outside the Union Territory.
The strengthened security grid and increased coordination among various security agencies has effectively lowered the scale of terrorism activities.
The cross-border smuggling of narcotics provides oxygen to terrorism via finances and, if not curbed soon, could ruin the lives of the region's youth.
The mullahs affiliated with these contesting ideologies deliver sermons on Fridays and festive days in mosques. While they remain deeply invoked to their doctrines and their discourses are taken very seriously, they have never spoken against drug abuse within the society. Rather than seriously discussing drug abuse and the role of Pakistan during such religious gatherings, the mullahs and religious leaders have stuck to their own teachings rather than the Quranic teachings and prophetic sayings against drug abuse. Rather than saving the young generation and Kashmir's syncretic culture, they have preferred to remain hand in glove with separatists and a party to this unending conflict. Methods used by the administration to "implement" transformation need to become "evolved" transformation to check the menace of drug addiction as well as extremism and radicalisation. Such desired change cannot evolve within the society if the religious leaders and their contesting ideologies remain stuck to their rhetorical silos based on fake narratives, without working for the real good of the people. The mullahs at the village level should work with community elders, civil society members, and the administration to overcome the challenge of drug abuse implanted on Kashmir and Kashmiri youth by Pakistan and its agencies.
Rather than seriously discussing drug abuse and the role of Pakistan during such religious gatherings, the mullahs and religious leaders have stuck to their own teachings rather than the Quranic teachings and prophetic sayings against drug abuse.
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Ayjaz Wani (Phd) is a Fellow in the StrategicRead More +