Dehradun district has contributed 69% of total cases of drugs seizure reported from across 13 districts of the state till May this year, official data revealed on the eve of the International Day Against Drug Abuse (June 26).
According to data provided by the Uttarakhand police, 190 cases of drug seizure were recorded in the state between January and May this year, of which 131 cases were reported in Dehradun district. Of 200 arrests made in cases related to drug seizures, 132 were from Dehradun.
Last year (2015) too, Dehradun had accounted for 252 or 61% of the total cases of drug seizures (410) reported across the state, indicating how the district has become the largest booming market for drugs in the Himalayan state.
Officials attributed this to the mushrooming number of colleges and institutes in Dehradun since it was made the interim capital of Uttarakhand in 2000.
Close proximity to Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Himachal Pradesh (HP) – from where most of the drug supply gets pumped in - has also made it easier for drugs to penetrate deeper into the district.
Dehradun senior superintendent of police (SSP) Sadanand Date said the drugs problem in the district was “really serious” and that things could take a shape “like that in Punjab” if urgent measures were not taken to curb the menace.
“Dehradun is quite a high potential market as it is an education hub and shares border with Himachal Pradesh (notorious for illegal cannabis and opium poppy cultivation) and West UP (cities like Bareilly and Saharanpur are said to be major supplier of drugs to Uttarakhand). The supply is increasing with the demand (for drugs),” Date told HT.
“It is very easy to get hold of drugs in Doon starting from as low as `50. There are many agents selling it near hostels and college areas like Clement Town, Subhash Nagar, Rajpur, Premnagar etc,” said Abhishek Kumar (name changed on request), a third-year engineering student and former drug addict, who has been visiting a city-based de-addiction centre for around a year now.
Keeping the growing drug menace in mind, the Dehradun police have started a special campaign on ‘Say No To Drugs’ where they have tied up with city-based educational institutes for sensitising the youngsters.
“We have collaborated with around 42 professional colleges for spreading awareness against the usage of drugs. We are also identifying and tying up with hostel wardens within and on the city outskirts to monitor drug activities,” Date said.
He added that the police were making it an integral part of community policing to report information related to drug usage. “We are starting a special drive from the next month onwards to bring in more colleges and hostels in our network,” he told HT.
Counselling experts said youngsters use drugs as a means of “escaping from the reality of life”. Dr Neerja Singh, a clinical psychologist at Max Super Speciality Hospital, said that most youngsters start taking drugs on a trial and error basis or under the influence of their peer group.
“They (youngsters) are not aware of the repercussions (of using drugs) and many parents, too, are unaware about their children falling prey to the menace until they (kids) get caught up in it till the extent of drugs becoming a body need,” she said.