Court directs Centre for release of funds for drug de-addiction centers

Pallavi Sareen

Jammu, Dec 4: Despite repeated directions of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Centre is yet to release funds to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir for the establishing 23 drug de-addiction centres.

High Court Division bench comprising of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Sanjeev Kumar had directed Union Ministry of Social Justice and Women Empowerment to inform the court about the release of funds.

Union Counsel Tahir Majid Shamsi informed the court that Union Ministry of Home Affairs is looking into the issue. He did not, however, elaborate why the Ministry of Social Justice and Women Empowerment is silent when the subject falls under its purview.

Court had penalised Central government for not complying with its orders back when Jammu and Kashmir was still a state and the funds were to be released to the State government. Now, when Jammu and Kashmir is being directly controlled by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, the situation has not changed at all.

Social workers allege that the central government continues to have a dilly-dallying approach when it comes to fighting drug abuse in Jammu and Kashmir.

Court had directed the ASGI to ensure that the concerned secretary was informed of the matter in the earnest and the directions of the court are complied with by the time of next hearing.

The latest report of Health and Medical Education Department states that 25000 persons aged between 10 and 75 are taking drugs of various kinds such as Opioid, Cannabis, Sedatives, Cocaine, Hallucinogens etc in Jammu and Kashmir. But the truth of the matter is much graver as can be seen with umbrage of syringes, bottles of Hallucinogens found in almost every isolated corner and abandoned road in Jammu and Kashmir.

While the civil society of Jammu and Kashmir, through organisations like Team Jammu and People’s Forum for Human Values are raising awareness and fighting drug abuse, even they believe that drug de-addiction centres are essential for the rehabilitation of drug addicts.

Court had further directed that the matter is of urgent nature and Central government should file a response explaining the reason for the delay in releasing funds to the Union Territory government for the establishment of 23 drug de-addiction centres.

Sources reveal that in March 2019, a state-level committee was constituted for monitoring drug abuse in the state and deciding the policy on drug de-addiction and how such cases should be handled by police. Chief Secretary, commission secretary health, some ex-officio members from Kashmir and Team Jammu President were part of the committee. However, according to sources, the committee has not held a single meeting in the months that have passed.

In Kashmir, two drug de-addiction centres exist but in Jammu, officially there is only one drug de-addiction centre under Police line which offers counselling for just 40 days.

“It takes at least six to seven months to rehabilitate someone who has become an addict to opium or cocaine. Furthermore, we believe that 18-19% population in Jammu has gotten indulged in drugs. But due to the social stigma, no one comes forward and even the deaths associated with drug overdose do not get recorded,” said Zorawar Singh, President of Team Jammu.