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Kashmir – A Heaven of Heroin

– Dr. Amna Shabi

The delicate streets of Kashmir

Enrapture me with splendour

With the sunset’s golden chandelier

A lake of lotuses, resilient and tender

Unfortunately, Hinchcliff’s beautifully painted-in-words picture of Kashmir isn’t the same today. Now, with reference to the article in the Indian Express, every 12th minute an addict walks into the OPD of SHMS Hospital in Srinagar. The article also comprehends how a father is relieved that his son has passed away because he simply couldn’t bear the aftermath of the drug addiction. Drug abuse and drug addiction have reached their peak in the valley, experts term it a pandemic.

We as Muslims, pertaining to the way we look at things, cannot address complex issues with simple solutions. When we are dealing with a pandemic of substance abuse, we just cannot oversimplify and denote it as haram and just end it there. Recommendations of practising Dīn to get one’s self out of this abuse have also been seen. Making sincere tauba, uplifting the spiritual experience, and dealing with productive Islamic work aren’t enough to overcome the addiction problem.

The drug addiction crisis as big as a pandemic in Kashmir needs to be addressed at the radicle.

To fully understand the underlying factors that lead Kashmiri youth towards drugs, one must acknowledge the long-standing political conflict that has plagued the region for over three decades. The youth, who bear the brunt of this conflict, face an alarming unemployment rate. Many of these youth comprise uneducated and unskilled individuals who feel disillusioned and bereft of opportunities. The perpetual political uncertainty and the cumulative effects of the past decades have fostered a deep sense of hopelessness, pushing the youth to seek solace in drugs as a medium to alleviate their frustration.

The availability of prescription drugs in the union territory also contributes to the severity of the issue.

Also, the dilemma of the issue is that when things get common, they automatically become rampant.

The government of Kashmir needs to implement strong law and order. Moral policing and arresting the addicts is not the remedy. It needs to generate new job opportunities, new skilled institutions, and new counselling centres as well.

On-call psychiatric professionals and specialists need to be appointed at government hospitals. Proper and immediate policies must be adopted by the state wherein the supply and transport of these drugs are completely stopped.

We have lost one generation to conflict and unrest, we need to enforce such similar solutions so that we do not lose another generation to drugs.

[The writer is based in Pune]

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