Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Illicit Drug Trade

What next? Afghanistan or Mexico style "private armies"?

Drug trade flourishing in Kashmir

Wasim Khalid (Rising Kashmir)

Srinagar: Signifying the flourishing of drug trade in Kashmir valley, police said it recovered drugs worth 69 lakh from peddlers in 2009 and arrested 36 people after recovering huge quantities of cannabis, poppy, poppy straw from them. Besides, this year, police also destroyed Bhang cultivated over 20,000 kanal of land.

According to police statistics, Bhang is being cultivated over more than 21,000 kanal of land, especially in south Kashmir’s Islamabad and Pulwama districts. A small portion of this was destroyed in Budgam district.

Apart from that, police claimed to have recovered 40 bags, 23 quintals and 23 kg of poppy this year while 11 accused, involved in the trade, were also arrested.

Police seized 17 kg cannabis, 42 charas sticks and arrested 14 accused involved in the trade from various locations. Police also seized vehicles used by drug peddlers to smuggle the cannabis.

Approximately, 688 kg and 90 bags of poppy straw were recovered from different persons this year. Police arrested 11 persons and seized a truck and a Tata Sumo vehicle used by the peddlers to transport the addictive substance.

Besides, police recovered 74 bottles of illegal liquor and arrested one person. “The grass and liqor seized thus amounts to worth 69 lakh,” a police official said. Meanwhile, police said they would continue with their drive against the drug trade.

“We would continue to pursue the people who cultivate or are involved in any trade related to cannabis and poppy,” Inspector General of Police Kashmir, Farooq Ahmad told Rising Kashmir. “We want to make our society drug-free.”

He said after they destroyed the cannabis and poppy fields, the residents of Pulwama also joined the drive.

“We started awareness campaign, roped in Imams in Pulwama. They informed people about the ill-effects of drugs,” Ahmad said. “They joined police and destroyed thousands of kanal of land used for Bhang cultivation. For us it was a really significant development.”

However, he said, people in Bijbehara and adjoining areas were not cooperating. “We are following a strategy of chasing peddlers and arresting them under NDPS act,” Ahmad said.

He said people get in drug trade as they mint huge money from it.

“Apart from trading cannabis and poppy here, peddlers are also sending it outside the state,” the IG said. “We are tightening the noose on them.”

Ahmad rued that there were no drug addiction centres in the Valley to cure addicts. “Police have one drug-de-addiction centre. It can accommodate limited patients,” he said. “The government should set up a 20-bed drug de-addiction centre in every district to treat these patients.”

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