Srinagar: Besides the fact that Kashmir has seen an exponential increase in the drug use with officials and other stakeholders chalking out strategies to try and wean away people from it, of late, the Valley has been active in cultivating poppy, which serves as raw material for the manufacturing of heroin.
Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance in the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. It can be mixed with water and injected with a needle. Heroin can also be smoked or snorted up the nose. All of these ways of taking heroin send it to the brain very quickly. This makes it very addictive.
Most of the cultivators grow it as an additional source of income as the substance has a high demand outside the Valley.
However, the JK administration has launched a massive drive to destroy the poppy, used for producing opium, fields in the Union Territory.
Every year in the month of April, the excise department of Kashmir carries out the poppy-destruction drive to curb the growing menace in the valley.
However, this year, the process was initiated months ago, Sameer Ahmad, excise and taxation officer for the south Kashmir range told Free Press Kashmir.
As per the figures accessed by Free Press Kashmir, from early April this year, the excise department has destroyed more than 350 Kanals of land under the illicit cultivation of poppy and the drive was held in all the Tehsils of south Kashmir districts.
Four districts including Anantnag, Kulgam Pulwama and Shopian, fall under the south Kashmir range.
“More than 30 FIRs stand registered against the cultivators and the drives will continue till this menace is completely rooted out from the society,” the officer said.
Instead of starting in April, the officer said, the drives were started before the formation of poppy seeds or capsules so that the cultivators stay away from it.
Last year, in the months of November and December, which is considered to be the season of growing poppy seeds, massive awareness generation programmes were conducted in the Valley.
In villages, where the cultivation is on rise, officials involved PRI members, Lumberdars, Chowkidars in every tehsil of the south Kashmir range to curb the menace.
“Door to door campaigns, besides the use of social media, print electronic media was used to reach out to the masses and to desist them from the cultivation,” the officer said, adding, a “comprehensive and multipronged survey in early months of the year was conducted in all potential prone areas”.
Noted religious scholars and prominent citizens were also involved in reaching out to the masses for spreading awareness regarding the cultivation, the officer said, sighing that the involvement of religious scholars has yielded better results.