Anantnag: The harvesting of cannabis is going on in many villages of Bijbehara with even smugglers luring school going children to cultivate it.
The villages where the harvesting of the crop goes on include Hayar, Taqibal, Krandigam, Thajiwara, Guri and Dupatyar, one of the biggest producers of cannabis in India.
Scores of people including young boys could be seen extracting cannabis from the tall green plants spread over hundreds of kanals of land in the area. Few senior citizens of the area who are concerned over this growing menace said that the smugglers and cultivators who have made a fortune out of this illegal trade are employing the students for harvesting of the crop against huge sums.
“Some notorious cultivators and smugglers having strong political connections are luring teenage boys including the students into the trade by offering them five to six hundred rupees a day for harvesting the crop,” they told Kashmir Reader.
Excise officials on the other hand suggest that the recent devastating floods hampered their drive against the cannabis cultivation in the area.
“Before the floods our men were busy destroying the bangh in other areas of the Valley. We are now going for a major drive against the banned crop in a day or two,” Deputy Commissioner Excise, Gulzar told Kashmir Reader.
He said that from past few days he has been receiving many complaints from the area about the harvesting of the cannabis.
“Even SDPO Bijbehara called me and expressed concern over the harvesting of bangh in the area, ” Gulzar said.
Senior citizens of the area, however, refused to buy the claims of the excise officials saying they never showed any seriousness in destroying the crop.
“If they were serious in the eradication of the menace why did not they launch a major destruction drive before the floods? Why did they discontinue their drive only after destroying few plants of bangh in a particular area?” said an elderly resident who wished anonymity fearing reprisal from the smugglers.
Deputy Commissioner Anantnag, Bashir Ahmad Khan said, “I had no idea about the cultivation of the banned crop in that area again. Now it has come to my notice I will ensure that a destruction drive is launched against it by tomorrow,” DC told Kashmir Reader.