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Approach:

  1. Introduction – state the menace of growing narco-terrorism in J&K.
  2. Explain the causes and various modes of operation of narco-terrorism, especially implanted by Pakistan.
  3. Initiatives taken by government.
  4. Conclusion, especially highlighting the synergistic role of mullahs.

With Pakistan using narco-terrorism as a new weapon in its proxy war against India, the Kashmir Valley has seen a 2,000% rise in heroin abuse in the last five years. The strengthened security grid and increased coordination among various security agencies has effectively lowered the scale of terrorism activities. Curbing the drug menace, however, is difficult, as Pakistan has now resorted to infiltrating large amounts of narcotics in Kashmir with the help of drones.

  • Narco-Terrorism in Kashmir: The centuries-old cultural and religious synthesis of Pandits and Muslims shaped the socioeconomic fabric of the Kashmiri society. It created an ‘informal social control system’ that played a dominant role and exerted great control over the individuals. However, the growing influence of radicalisation, terrorism, and conflict “implemented” from across the border since 1989 has eroded this composite way of life.
  • Furthermore, repeated calls for strikes by separatists and militants, long-term curfews imposed by the security agencies, and the unending conflict have increased anxiety, depression, and psychological stress. In addition to this, the near-total lack of recreational activities has lured the young minds to the perils of drug addiction.
  • The Valley has witnessed an alarming rise in drug addiction in all socioeconomic classes of the region. Srinagar’s Government Medical College’s Oral Substitution Therapy Centre reported only 489 cases in 2016, but breached the 10,000 mark in 2021.
  • 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. 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% 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.
  • 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. 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.
  • For the last 30 years, Pakistan has succeeded in breaking down the traditional methods of informal control system by introducing contesting religious ideologies such as Jamat-i-Islami, Salafism, and Tableeg. Subsequently, people’s affiliation with these ideologies has divided society at the community level, fuelling increased deviant behaviour among the youth. This unchecked deviant behaviour has been primarily responsible for the widespread rise in radicalism, extremism, and now drug abuse.

Measures undertaken:

  • Besides increased vigil by the security forces, the government of Jammu and Kashmir has responded to the unprecedented rise in drug abuse by setting up ten drug de-addiction centres, including two large facilities in Srinagar and Jammu. It has also established a counselling centre in each district, with qualified doctors and counsellors. The administration and security agency also organise seminars, workshops, and public lectures to spread awareness.
  • 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 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 Kashmiri youth by Pakistan & its agencies.
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