Srinagar : In a coordinated action, the government is taking stern measures against the drug-peddlers to tackle Pakistan-sponsored narco-terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. After booking them under stringent laws, the authorities have now decided to seize their immovable properties.
The security forces are fighting multiple battles in the Himalayan region as Pakistan is putting in all the efforts to keep the pot boiling. It continues to send heavily armed infiltrators into J&K.
It’s dropping arms, ammunition, cash and drugs through drones and has roped in criminals to act as the conduits of terrorists in the Union Territory. Till August 5, 2019, when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate J&K’s special status and bifurcate it into two Union Territories, terrorism in all forms thrived in J&K for 30 long years.
The terrorists and their supporters enjoyed the patronage of the erstwhile political regimes as the politicians didn’t allow the security forces and the law enforcing agencies to function independently.
However, during the past three years the situation has changed. The government has given a freehand to the security forces to act tough against the terrorists and their supporters. Instructions are clear that “don’t spare the guilty and don’t touch the innocents.”
From 1990 to 2019, whosoever came into power in Jammu and Kashmir didn’t dare to look towards the properties of separatists and the terrorist supporters.
But from 2019, the situation changed, the government seized the properties of separatists like late Hurriyat hawk, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Democratic Freedom Party chairman, Shabir Ahmed Shah, chief of the radical women organization, Dukhtaran-e-Millat, Asiya Andrabi and others. Properties belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami were also sealed.
Many Immovable properties of the people who allowed terrorists to use their homes as hideouts have been seized during the past three years. The government’s action has established the writ of the state and has driven home a point that no one will be allowed to support terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.
The dispensation led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi cracking the whip on terrorism has made things difficult for the terror bosses sitting in Pakistan. They are finding it hard to keep the conflict alive.
Frontier districts turn gateways.
Now, Pakistan is using drones to drop weapons and drugs into J&K. Pakistan during the past three years has tried its best to turn frontier districts situated close to the Line of Control (LoC) in north Kashmir into gateways for pushing drugs into J&K.
By doing so, the neighbouring country wants to turn J&K’s generation-next into drug addicts. It wants to turn youngsters into slaves, who can carry forward Pakistan’s proxy war. The security forces and the government are working hard to thwart the nefarious designs of the terror bosses sitting in Pakistan.
The drug peddlers are being treated at par with the terrorists, they are being booked under stringent Public Safety Act and the government has decided to seize their properties. According to the officials, Jammu and Kashmir Police registered 89 cases under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in Kupwara district in 2022.
It arrested 161 accused of which 30 were booked under stringent Public safety Act. Police also seized 27.11 kg Charas, 8.24 kg Brown Sugar, 20.20 kg Heroin, 450 bottles of codeine.
Similarly, in neighbouring Handwara Police district, 74 accused were arrested of which six were booked under PSA. Police seized 13 vehicles, 8.88 kg Charas, 2 kg Brown Sugar, 47 gram Heroin and 540 gram Cannabis.
Both these districts are situated close to the LoC and Pakistan is leaving no stone unturned to turn these areas into a haven for drug peddlers.
Admin orders seizure of properties
The administration has taken a serious note of the activities being carried out by the terrorist handlers sitting across the LoC. It has widened the ambit of its crackdown on drug dealers by deciding to seal their properties.
This step is aimed at nipping the evil in the bud itself. All stakeholders, including the members of the civil society, religious scholars and academicians are being taken on board to create awareness about the disastrous effects of drugs on the youth and society.
The security agencies are aware of the fact that if the narco-terrorism is not tackled at this point of time then it can turn into a monster and would eat up yet another generation in Kashmir. Seizure of properties of the drug peddlers could prove to be a turning point in curbing the narco-terrorism in J&K.
The investigating agencies have collected enough evidence to establish that the money minted through drug trade is being used for terror activities in the Union Territory.
J&K Police set goals
The J&K Police have set goals for speedy and quality investigation of NDPS cases to increase the conviction rate. The accused are being booked under the NDPS Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The drug-related crops are being destroyed. J&K Police are training more and more officers to deal with an increasing number of NDPS cases. According to the figures dished out by the officials in September 2022, the special wing of J&K Police, Anti-Narcotics Task Force (ANTF) had arrested over 1232 drug peddlers and lodged 867 FIRs in the first quarter of 2021-2022, while in 2021, the J&K Police had arrested 574 drug peddlers.
Last year, ANTF teams had seized 26.58 kg of Hashish and arrested two interstate narco-smugglers near Transport Nagar Yard (Narwal-Channi Road in Jammu. The consignment was loaded in a truck in north Kashmir’s Sopore town and was on its way to New Delhi.
Official figures revealed that in the first nine months of 2022, 61.02 kg of Heroin was seized in J&K. In 2019, 393 kgs of Charas was seized while in 2020, 633 kgs were recovered and in 2021, nearly 1000 kgs of Charas was seized during raids and interceptions at checkpoints across J&K.
Bank accounts frozen
In March 2021, the Anti-Narcotics Task Force (ANTF), for the first time in the past 30 years of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in J&K, froze five bank accounts of a drug cartel. These were frozen under the Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators Act.
The frozen bank accounts, according to officials, were directly linked with a drug cartel operating in Kashmir, headed by Masood Ahmed Dar of Bijbehara in Anantnag. The total money in these accounts amounted to more than Rs 54 lakh.
Among the arrested handlers, Salman Khan and Amit Saxena were apprehended from Delhi for distributing psychotropic drugs in J&K, while one Jahangir Ahmed, who was the main supplier of drugs from J&K to other parts of the country, was arrested from the Union Territory. The arrested drug dealers were in touch with the cross-border smugglers, peddlers and others.
Surveys shock people
The survey conducted by the Department of Mental Health and Neurosciences in collaboration with the J&K Health Services Department and the Social Welfare Department across the ten districts in Kashmir had revealed that 67,000 substance users were taking Heroin.
The survey had also revealed that most of the drug abusers were in the age group of 17-33 years. Another survey conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences had stated that Punjab had 1.2 per cent of Opiate users while Kashmir had shown the percentage at 2.5 per cent.
The survey said crores of rupees were spent on drugs in Kashmir every day with a single substance abuser spending over Rs 88,000 every month.