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.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Infrastructure Deficiencies Take Toll on Mental Health

Substance abuse runs rampant in Kashmir

Drug Addicts in Kashmir in Lakhs, Treatment Insufficient

Bismah Malik (Kashmir Times)

Srinagar: The serious threat of drug addiction which according to Kashmir’s renowned sociologist Dr. B.A Dabla might consume the next generation of the valley, has been left unaddressed in Kashmir. The only two drug de-addiction centres run by the State Police are registering an unprecedented rush of patients who are forced to wait for their treatment schedules to begin, due to lack of infrastructure there.

Drug de-addiction centre statistics reveal that 3500 patients visited the centre from March 2008 to October 2010 with 462 patients registered for admission but due to unavailability of beds, the patients were kept waiting for months after registration. A United Nations International Drug Control Program Survey in 2008 revealed that there were 70,000 people battling drug addiction in the valley and their current projection of the same being 2 lakh. A Drug de-addiction cum Rehabilitation Center “Rahat” at Gousia Hospital in Khanyar since its establishment has treated 8853 out patients for drug abuse related health problems. In a matter pf 90 days, approximately 213 indoor drug abusers were hospitalized here.

The only government Psychiatric Hospital, Srinagar which treats psychiatric diseases inflicted by drug abuse records an alarming increase in the number of patients of drug abuse from 2000 in 1989 to 1 lakh patients in 2011. The Hospital treats approximately 2000 patients a year with drug related problems. Experts say that 90 per cent of patients are in the age bracket of 17-35 years. In what could be termed as a false approach at curbing the drug menace, for the patients with the problem of substance abuse, there are no separate provisions of OPD /IPD or rehabilitation facilities and they are treated alongside patients with mental-illness.

An official at the Govt. Psychiatry Hospital attributes the same to the lack in infrastructure as well as professional staff. For that matter, the infrastructure at two Drug De-addiction Centers (DDC) run by Police is even worse. Each of the DDC has a ten bed capacity which by all standards does not comply with the requirements.

Faizan Khan, a young social activist who runs Mukhtar Memorial Society, an NGO involved in drug de-addiction campaign in the valley informs that drug abuse awareness programmes are minimal especially among the most vulnerable group of school and college going students. In a drug de-addiction programme, Faizan run at a Govt. Girls Higher Secondary School, Saida Kadal, the faculty told him that these programmes need to be carried out on a sustainable basis to see the eradication of drug menace.

“The staff though hesitant , did agree that the city school students are increasing falling prey to drug abuse problems and that a majority of the times, the children and their parents do not come forward in addressing this burning issue. The social stigma associated with the drug abuse in the valley is still very much prevalent. The school administrations feel a need to include moral education in the schools and families to uproot this evil,” Faizan added.

The youngest drug abuse victim in Srinagar Police Control Room ‘s seven bedded additional facility in Batamaloo is a 13 year old heroin addict .On an average, two to three fresh cases of drug abuse are reported here every day. The doctors here hold that if such facilities were present in all the major locations of the valley, the number of such registered cases of drug abuse would run up to many lakhs.

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