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Drugs abuse fallout: HIV cases in Meghalaya much higher than national average

First Published: 27th June, 2024 12:58 IST

The Meghalaya Government has expressed grave concern over the matter and called for greater and active participation of the community in wiping out drugs menace.

In close proximity to the Golden Triangle, the Northeast has always been a vulnerable zone when it comes to drugs trafficking as well as pushing narcotics to India is concerned. The situation has now become more alarming as the prevalence of drugs among the youths has already raised grave concerns.

The fallout of this now clearly reflected when we look at the HIV prevalence rate in Meghalaya. Shocking indeed, the state’s HIV prevalence rate is much more than the national average.

Expressing grave concern Meghalaya Social Welfare Minister Paul Lyngdoh called for greater participation of the society in eliminating the menace of drugs.

Lyngdoh during his conversation with newspersons said, “Meghalaya has a HIV rate of 11.5 % while the national average is 9%, so it’s slightly on the higher side. More needs to be done, what was lacking all along was community participation, it was there but it was limited to efforts like deaddiction and counselling. But for us to proactively engage with the community would be to get the community to be part of policing, which is why the very important missing link that this government has finally been able to address is the need to have the community leaders actually assisting the police in enforcing laws against drugs.”

Further, Lyngdoh informed that the department was seeking suggestions and proposal from all Dorbar Shnongs on how to go ahead in strengthening the VDPs especially in East Khasi Hills is reeling under drug menace.

“For instance the NDPS which is in effect cannot be effectively engaged with unless we have community participation, which is why today Dorbars have been requested to come up with any further suggestions on the framework of the VDP. We have made available to them copies of the Act that governs the formation of VDPs and within the end of this month we will be able to collect all suggestions in writing and then start forming and reviving the VDPs.

As of date we have just 11 active VDPs in the city of Shillong itself and vast areas of localities remain uncovered. But as you can see from the response in the last meetings, the response has been very encouraging. We expect them to form these VDPs in line with the provisions of the law,” the Meghalaya Social Welfare Minister said.

On the other hand, highlighting the state’s relentless war on drugs, Paul Lyngdoh said, that in the last two years as many as 610 people have been arrested in Meghalaya while Drugs worth Rs 300 crore were seized in the state on various occasions. Lyngdoh said in most cases the trails are on.

To demonstrate the zero-tolerance policy towards drug trafficking, the Customs (Preventive) North Eastern Region destroyed seized drugs worth Rs 167.47 crore.

This was done to observe the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. In the drive, 12.48 kgs Heroin, 45.27 kgs Meth/Yaba Tablets, 5804.78 kgs Ganja and 66728 bottles of Codeine-based Cough Syrups were destroyed.

In Assam too, the war on drugs under the leadership of Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has been able to inflict a massive damage to the drugs nexus active in the region.

On Saturday, Assam Police destroyed a huge amount of seized illegal substances worth around Rs 1,920 crore as part of a drug disposal program. According to the police, they destroyed 6.214 kilograms of heroin worth Rs 31.07 crore, 683 kilograms of marijuana worth Rs 1,751 crore, 271 kilograms of cough syrup bottles worth Rs 16.26 crore, and 6.04 kilograms of Yaba tablets worth Rs 120.80 crore.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday authorities destroyed seized drugs worth a total of Rs 50.30 crore marking the World Anti-Drugs Day. The drugs, which had been confiscated during anti-trafficking raids, were burned in a furnace. This included heroin worth Rs 42.60 crore and addictive tablets worth Rs 7.7 crore.

Manipur CM N Biren Singh on Wednesday informed that since the war on drugs campaign was launched in 2018, a total of around 19,135 acres of illegal poppy cultivation has been destroyed, and around 297 drug smugglers have been convicted.

Reports citing the Manipur CM stated that in 2021-2022, a total area of 28,598.91 acres of illegal poppy cultivation was detected in the state a and it was and was reduced to 11,288.07 acres in 2023-2024.
In Mizoram drugs worth over 180 crore was destroyed as part of the International Day Against Drug Abuse.

On the other hand, the picture is also alarming in the national perspective. It can be very well gauged from data released by Ministry of Home Affairs which state during the period 2006 to 2013 the number of cases registered was 1257 in number which shot up by 3 times during 2014-2023 to 3755.

The arrests increased by 4 times from 1363 in the 2006-13 period to 5745 in the 2014-23 period.

But the number of seizures also doubled during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regime. The total seizure increased to 3.95 lakh kgs from 1.52 lakh kgs during 2006-13. The value of seized drugs jumped 30 times during the Modi government to Rs.22,000 crore from Rs.768 crore achieved in the period 2006-13, MHA added.

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