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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

‘Street children being trapped into substance abuse in UP’

Majority of children rescued by child rights authorities across the state is into drug abuse. The kids are being trapped by other youths for easy money.

lucknow Updated: Jun 26, 2019 15:42 IST
Saurabh Chauhan
Saurabh Chauhan
Hindustan Times, Luckow
The state government is yet to prepare a plan to tackle the menace.
The state government is yet to prepare a plan to tackle the menace.(Representative image)

Last week, child rights authorities who rescued two 10 and 12-year- old children from Hazratganj were shocked was when the kids offered them a piece of cloth soaked in whitener and said, “Aap bhi soongho, acchhi neend aati hai. (You also sniff it, it helps in sound sleep).”

“They were in their own world,” said one of the officials, part of the rescue team.

This is the growing trend in Uttar Pradesh, while the state government is yet to prepare a plan to tackle this menace.

Majority of children rescued by child rights authorities across the state is into drug abuse. The kids are being trapped by other youths for easy money. In the state capital , there are several cases in which psychotropic substances and products used for domestic use were recovered from kids.

“These two children were into substance abuse for the past few years. They worked as unorganised child labourers to fulfil their drug needs,” said Sangeeta Sharma, child rights activist, adding, “Whitener, Fevibond, shoe polish are commonly used by these children. There are scores of shops selling products which can be abused for drug addiction at quite low cost.”

What the report says about UP
  • Cannabis: UP has higher than national prevalence of cannabis use
  • Opioids: Of the total estimated approximately 60 lakh people with opioid use disorders (harmful or dependent pattern), Uttar Pradesh tops the tally
  •  People Who Inject Drugs (PWID): High numbers of PWID estimated in Uttar Pradesh

Drug addicts subjected to abuse

Such children are commonly exploited and abused. “They are asked to do any work for a small amount. Generally rag picking, cleaning shops and drains are the jobs offered to these children,” said a government official, adding, “Since we do not have a specific plan to deal with the menace, the existing system needs to be strengthened.”

Lucknow’s Chowk, Gudamba , Nishatganj parks and abandoned structures across the city are dens for drug addicts . Some of the street children are being used as drug mules.

Uttar Pradesh Commission for Protection of Child Rights chairperson Vishesh Gupta said, “During the commission’s visits to several districts, it was seen the trend of drug addiction among children was on the rise.” The commission observed that the government was strict about identified drugs including charas, smack and heroin but low cost psychotropic substance and material used for domestic work was being peddled for drug addiction among children.

 Violation of Juvenile Justice Act

Generally ignored by stake holders, Section 78 of Juvenile Justice Act states, “Whoever uses a child for vending, peddling, carrying, supplying or smuggling any intoxicating liquor, narcotic drug or psychotropic substance, shall be liable to rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to a fine up to one lakh rupees.”

“So far no significant step has been taken by the cops. Even when police see or detain a drug addict teen, they inform Childline or child welfare committee instead of diving deep to catch the people behind this mess,” said Ashish Gupta, a child rights expert.

Child rights authorities rescued the 13-year- old son of a domestic help from Nishatganj last year, who was a drug addict. The authorities got him treated in hospital and he was out of the net for some time. He relapsed as his mother had to go to work daily . “He was fine but now he is back with his old peer group. If I sit at home guarding him, who will feed us,” said Manthra, his mother. Another 8-year-old child rescued by the Childline told authorities said he used to get five whitener tubes a day for Rs. 20 each. 

UP’s 13 districts picked for ODIC

On the basis of a report ‘Magnitude of Substance Use in India,’ prepared by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, the centre has prepared a National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction for 2018-2023. Of the total 127 vulnerable districts, 13 are from UP where outreach and drop-in centres (ODIC) will be established. They are Ghaziabad, Varanasi, Meerut, Sant Ravidas Nagar, Bareilly, Kanpur, Moradabad, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Barabanki, Prayagraj, Ghazipur and Saharanpur.

First Published: Jun 26, 2019 14:53 IST

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