February 2002 News

Illegal drug trade on the rise in valley

15 February 2002
The Hindustan Times
Majid Jahangir

Srinagar: There are hundreds of illegal chemists spread throughout the Valley. They usually remain closed during the day and open in the evening, selling sedatives, tranquillisers, opiates and depressants. ''Anybody can open an outlet, without knowing anything about medicines,'' says Ghulam Nabi, who has been associated with the pharmaceutical business for the past 30 years. ''The youth get sedatives from these outlets and there is no bar on quantity,'' he says. Shafat Ahmad, a counsellor at HNSS, a private clinic in Srinagar where drug addicts are treated, says that many addicts have opened such illegal shops. He said HNSS had treated almost 14 addicts who were associated with the medical profession at its rehabilitation centre. Admitting that many people associated with the medical profession have opened such illegal shops, an official said the state government did not have enough manpower to control the illegal drug trade. ''Our drug inspectors can''t move (about) after 6 pm, but if we receive complains we will take action,'' said R.L. Das, deputy drug controller in Kashmir. He said that in the coming days his department would take serious note of such violations. State Minister for Health and Family Welfare Mian Altaf recently sought the public''s co-operation in identifying such drug peddlers to help curb the menace. ''I have issued orders to the drug control department to take action against unlicensed pharmacists,'' he said. ''A section of government officials might be in league with drug traders and the people must come forward to identify the wrongdoers and help the authorities,'' Altaf added.


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