Man on mission to curb drug menace in Kashmir

May 11, 2021 2:34 PM

In Kashmir Valley, drug addiction has been on the rise and as per conservative estimates, almost 2.5 lakh youth are victims of substance abuse

Jammu and Kashmir, drug addiction in Kashmir, Expandable Infra Pvt Ltd, Srinagar Police Control Room’s (PCR) de-addiction centreLatest data obtained from the Srinagar Police Control Room’s (PCR) de-addiction centre paints a grim picture.

By Farooq Wani

It was by sheer luck that I met Mumbai based Sahil Peerzada, entrepreneur, who through his hard work and dedication has built a 3,000 crores business empire and made a name for himself in the world of business, both in India and abroad. He is the founder of Expandable Infra Pvt Ltd, which provides services in oil and gas, real estate, land acquisition, infrastructure and banking sectors and helps companies in growing and expanding their businesses.

What struck me most was that despite having made it so big, Sahil Peerzada is not only a very humble person but also extremely proud and passionate about his Kashmiri roots.

Apart from an innate desire to provide employment opportunities to the locals by setting up businesses in Kashmir, he is also very distraught by the malaise of substance abuse which has spread like wildfire in Kashmir and is not only consuming our youth but also destroying society. Latest data obtained from the Srinagar Police Control Room’s (PCR) de-addiction centre paints a grim picture. Majority of those accommodated here fall in the age group of 18-35 years. However due to social taboos, while the numbers of substance users are very high, the number of those who seek assistance at the de-addiction centre is alarmingly low. So, Sahil Peerzada wishes to do something meaningful to arrest this unhealthy trend and spread awareness regarding the harmful consequences of drug abuse so that young people don’t fall prey to this addiction.

In Kashmir Valley, drug addiction has been on the rise and as per conservative estimates, almost 2.5 lakh youth are victims of substance abuse and the most unfortunate and disturbing part is that the scourge of drug abuse has even spread amongst girls in the Valley. However, even though drug addiction is loathsome, yet, substance abusers are our own people and can’t be abandoned and left to God’s mercy. In order to effectively curb this menace and wean away addicts from substance abuse, there is an urgent need for creating de-addiction facilities and counselling centres to combat this social evil and grave threat to physical and medical health.

There are several reasons for the drug menace in the Valley, which includes living in a conflict zone, lack of awareness, peer pressure and most of all, easy availability of narcotics. As per sources, one gram of heroin costs around Rs 3,000-4,000 and as per data released by Jammu and Kashmir police reveal that 1132 drug-related cases were registered in 2020 itself. While the police and excise department are working overtime to apprehend drug peddlers, the latter keep finding new methods to escape detection and tip-offs regarding drug dealers from the public is not forthcoming, probably due to the fear of retribution.

Seeing the sterling role of the establishment in combating the scourge of substance abuse through counselling and de-addiction facilities, Sahil Peerzada feels that in order to make this drive even more effective, citizen-participation is a must. So, he is actively considering to kickstart a social intervention plan that will include individual and family sessions, identification of stressors in the family, antagonist consent, work rehabilitation, relapse prevention education and pre-discharge counselling. He plans to launch this programme in collaboration with civil society members as a moral duty arising out of an exemplary sense of social responsibility.

Govt and NGOS working in this field should provide full assistance and guidance to Sahil Peerzada’s plans of waging an all-out ‘war’ against drugs for helping victims of substance abuse to quit this debilitating habit as well as dissuading others from experimenting with drugs and thus save the future generations of Kashmir. This newspaper has always been at the forefront in the campaign against substance abuse in Kashmir and has been vociferously canvassing against this scourge. Brighter Kashmir paper is highly appreciative of Peerzada sahib’s noble gesture and pledges to provide all-out support to his path breaking initiative.

(The author is Editor Brighter Kashmir, Columnist, TV Commentator, Political Analyst. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. )

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