Security Issues

Drugs in the Valley: Pakistan’s New Terrorist Financing Tool

With arms and terror infiltration becoming more difficult, Pakistan has turned to drug trafficking to degenerate the youth of Jammu and Kashmir. Police Chief Dilbag Singh has dubbed narcotics, Pakistan’s new weapon for financing terrorism in the Valley, the biggest challenge confronting Jammu and Kashmir.

Background on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and its consequences

  • Pakistan’s constant financial and strategic support for the insurgency in the Kashmir Valley, including training and infiltrating weapons and militants, impacted society in a variety of ways.
  • Terrorism supported by Pakistan destroyed society’s centuries-old socioeconomic and sociocultural fabric.
  • Deaths, a mass exodus of Pandits, and increased unemployment eroded the composite way of life, increasing boredom, depression, and anxiety among the masses.

How Pakistan’s designs are failing?

  • Three years after the repeal of Articles 370 and 35A, Pakistan-sponsored terrorism is at an all-time low in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The number of active militants has decreased from 250 at the end of 2019 to slightly more than 100 by January 2023.
  • Security agencies worked hard to achieve zero terror activities within the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and in 2022, they busted 146 terror modules built by Pakistan.
  • As a result, Pakistan’s 30-year-long plan to instil a culture of violence in the Valley, backed by a self-serving and incestuous political elite, is failing.

Pakistan’s drug strategy in Kashmir

  • The strategy serves a dual purpose for Pakistan: With the people of Kashmir increasingly rejecting terrorism and a culture of violence, Islamabad’s drug strategy serves a dual purpose. One is to attack the heart of social well-being, and the other is to fund terrorism within the Valley.
  • Constant infiltration of drugs into the valley: There is a constant infiltration of drugs into the valley through the Kupwara and Baramulla districts, and less-used other drugs such as brown sugar, cocaine, and marijuana are also readily available within the Valley and even in parts of Jammu.

Drug addiction in Kashmir

  • The Kashmir Valley is slowly becoming a drug hub due to drug addiction: The Kashmir Valley is gradually becoming a drug hub in Northern India, with over 67,000 drug abusers, 90 percent of whom are heroin addicts who use more than 33,000 syringes daily.
  • With 2.5 percent of the population using drugs, Kashmir has emerged as the country’s most drug-affected region, ahead of Punjab, where 1.2 percent of the population is reportedly addicted to drug abuse.
  • Affected residents include: The state-level narcotic coordination committee meeting chaired by the Chief Secretary in November 2022 revealed that at least six lakh residents in Jammu and Kashmir were affected by drug-related issues.
  • Rising crime rate: A drug addict in the Valley spends an average of INR 88,000 per year, increasing Kashmir’s crime rate.

Causes of this situation

  • The breakdown of age-old social discipline: The near-total collapse of the Valley’s age-old informal social discipline and control mechanisms enforced by village elders is a significant reason for such an alarming situation.
  • An attack on the cultural core: Pakistan’s nefarious assault on the Valley’s cultural core has rendered this traditional social control mechanism ineffective.
  • Few people contribute to social degeneration: Village elders have also frequently collaborated with Pakistan’s evil designs by remaining silent and endorsing societal degradation.

Jammu and Kashmir police and the drug war

  • Security agencies have focused their attention on drug peddlers: Jammu and Kashmir’s security forces are well-known for their anti-terrorist operations. They have successfully formed an alliance with the local administration in order to sabotage Pakistan’s and allied forces’ activities in the Valley. As the Pakistan-sponsored insurgency fades, security agencies have shifted their focus to drug peddlers.
  • In 2022, the police registered 1,021 cases and arrested 1700 drug peddlers under the Narcotic Drugs Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, including 138 notorious peddlers. At the same time, authorities seized massive amounts of contraband, including 212 kilogrammes of charas, 56 kilogrammes of heroin, 13 kilogrammes of brown sugar, 4.355 tonnes of poppy straw, and 1.567 tonnes of fukki.
  • Security agencies also busted many narco-terror modules and arrested 36 people with large catches of drugs, arms, ammunition, and money.
  • Drugs smuggled from Pakistan were discovered during an investigation: In December 2022, police raided a Pakistan-based narcotics module and arrested 17 people, including five police officers and some political activists. Over five kilogrammes of narcotics worth INR 5 crore were smuggled from Pakistan in three months, according to investigations.
  • Nasha-Mukt Bharat Abhiyan: On 15 August 2020, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment launched the Nasha-Mukt Bharat Abhiyan, an initiative to eradicate the menace of drug addiction in 272 districts across India. This programme has held large-scale awareness campaigns in colleges, universities, and communities.

Way forward

  • The Kashmiri society must engage in internal dialogue and take a serious look at Pakistan’s policies that incite conflict, particularly through narco-terrorism.
  • Kashmir’s elders and religious leaders, through mosques, must get involved in the drug war and guide the youth to participate meaningfully in the slew of developmental activities undertaken by the national and union territory governments in the aftermath of the repeal of Article 370.
  • The government should also initiate and facilitate public-private partnerships in which local police, military, paramilitary, and citizen bodies work together to rid Kashmir of narco-terrorism and Pakistan’s culture of violence.

@the end

With the infiltration of arms and terror becoming more difficult, Pakistan has resorted to drug trafficking to destroy Kashmir’s youth. Creating a working synergy between Kashmir’s traditional and formal social control systems can help to alleviate the drug problem.

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