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Sikkim and substance abuse: shifting from soft drugs to hard drugs?

Drug busts and pictures of peddlers being nabbed at Sikkim and bordering states have lately been increasing, so much so, that these arrests and seizures have been almost rendered a norm. Sikkim has had its fair share of trouble with drugs in the recent decades, and it has been a trouble that has prevailed and made life harder for the locals and the authorities alike.

Drugs (usage, and trafficking) problem sees people scattered over all demographics turning over into world of crime, mental health issues, addiction, self-harm, family-fights, and the list goes on in every corner and under every stone that is turned. In that light, it has been reported that a vehicle bearing Sikkim number was intercepted in Assam’s Karbi Anglong District, and a huge consignment of drugs was seized.

A consignment containing huge quantities of heroin marked “100% pure” in Chinese, Morphine, Crystal Methamphetamines (Crystal Meth) and Syabu placed at a worth of about Rs 15 crore was seized from a Sikkim registered vehicle (SK vehicle) in Karbi Anglong District in Assam on Tuesday morning, August 2.

According to reports and sources, the consignment was headed for Siliguri in West Bengal, police told Times of India.

The police nabbed three peddlers, Rajesh Lakandri (37), Kumar Gajmer (38) and Tangambou Marianmai (48). The accused, all of whom hail from Manipur were arrested, in connection with the trafficking of drugs.

“Acting on a tip-off, Assam Police and the Central Reserve Police Force foiled the bid to smuggle the consignment of narcotic drugs. John Das, sub-divisional police officer, Bokajan, said the consignment was smuggled from Manipur”, TOI reported.

“A naka was set up at Dilai Tiniali under the jurisdiction of Dilai police station in the district, where the team intercepted a Bolero vehicle bearing the registration number of Sikkim. The vehicle was thoroughly searched and they recovered the consignment of narcotic drugs hidden in the glove box and gear box of the vehicle.” The SDPO Das told TOI.

Das said that the team had recovered 383 grams of heroin marked as “Double UO Globe” and the words “100% pure” in Chinese. “It is one of the purest forms of heroin and famous in the Golden Triangle. Heroin was recovered from the glove box of the vehicle while 1 kg morphine, 2 kg of crystal meth and syabu were recovered from the hidden gear box,” he added.

In a recent interview with Sikkim Chronicle, KC Nima, Founder of Freedom Facility a rehabilitation centre for the drug addicts, on being asked about the situation of drug related issues in Sikkim said that “although police has been arresting  drug peddlers on a daily basis and punishing them while at the same time we too are working on our part, I do not think we are quite able to curb it completely”.  “The statistics has not gone down, rather it has climbed up” he added. 

KC Nima  who himself accepted of being the drug abuser once in his life said that “I started using drug along with four of my friends as an experiment and pleasure which slowly turned into an addiction, but I landed in a rehabilitation center and was saved, but one of my friend passed away due to addiction”.

On being asked about the possible solutions he said that “I do not think I have the solution, but I can only say that people need to be more compassionate against the drug addicts and not treat them as mad, criminals or animals rather treat them as patients because drug addiction is itself a disease”.

“If only an addict is accepted in a society as a patient, given proper guidance and treatment along with time to recover and realize his mistake then and then only I think slowly but steadily the number will go down” he said. 

Chief Minster of Sikkim, Prem Singh  Tamang, addressing  public gathering recently  had expressed concern on the rising drug abuse related cases. He in his address mentioned that the government had been working tirelessly to curb drug addiction in Sikkim, and said that the only solution now seemed rehabilitation of the drug addicts.

“We have the capacity to rehabilitate 400 drug addicts at a time which accounts to the rehabilitation of 1200 drug addicts a year while we also are arranging to send our youngsters who unfortunately has been grappling with drug addiction to the different rehabilitation centers outside the state such as in Kolkata, Darjeeling or Siliguri” stated CM Tamang.

“Although there is an Act in place for drug users and traffickers that lays provisions for harsh punishments but still we are not unable to control it completely” he said “I think the problem lies after the drug addict returns from the rehabilitation centres where we are maybe failing to provide proper opportunities and guidance to them”.

“The government with consultation with concerned authorities and stakeholders is making plans to provide job opportunities to the individuals returning from the rehabilitation centres while at the same time as the cost of sending one drug addict to a rehabilitation centre amounts to around twenty-five thousand rupees, we too are willing to provide financial assistance to economically weaker families who are willing to send their children who are drug addicts to the rehabilitation centres” he added. 

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