Srinagar: Records at the Srinagar district court show an alarming increase in cases of drug peddling. From 145 cases registered at the court in the year 2015-16, the number jumped to 239 cases in the year 2017-18.
Recently, the district court rejected bail applications in more than ten drug-peddling cases, but in many cases bail applications have been accepted citing the reason: “less quantity recovered”.
Additional Public Prosecutor Bilquees Mushtaq Zargar said on the issue, “Almost 2-3 bail applications per day are heard in the court, which shows the increase in these cases. A few years from now, if strict action is not taken against these drug peddlers, the situation will become worse. The younger generation will be at great risk.”
Zargar recently managed to have three bail applications in drug-peddling cases rejected by the Principal District and Sessions Judge, Mehmood Choudhary. She argued before the judge that granting bail to a drug peddler would have serious implications both on society as well as on the investigation process. She pleaded before the judge that the accused persons should be not released on bail as “they are a bigger threat to society than anyone else.”
On November 16 last year, Director General of Police (DGP) Shesh Paul Vaid had also made a statement that drug abuse was a bigger challenge than terrorism, but on ground the menace is going from bad to worse.
Over the past five to six years, 968 quintals, or 96.8 tonnes, equivalent to 12 truckloads (at 8 tonnes per truck), of narcotic drugs have been seized, the state’s home department revealed in an order issued on September 25, 2017. The department asked police officers to follow standard operating procedures while dealing with cases registered under the NDPS Act.
As per the official data, last year police arrested 667 people and registered 542 cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act for drug peddling and smuggling.
A local police officer, Mudasir Ahmed, told Kashmir Reader that it is a cause of concern that the cases are increasing but pointed out that drug peddlers get bail easily, which is discouraging for the police.
The state home department’s order also said that drug peddlers get bail easily on technical grounds.
“Despite the fact that major offences under the NDPS Act are non-bailable, it has been observed that in several cases the drug offenders secure acquittal on technical grounds,” reads the home department’s order dated September 25, 2017. “A large number of offenders in NDPS cases are acquitted due to non-compliance of mandatory provisions and the prescribed procedure,” the order reads further.
“We have to make laws strict and the term of punishment for these cases should also be looked at because it concerns our young children. In other north Indian states, a person arrested under NDPS Act doesn’t get bail for months but here in Kashmir, such persons secure release within 10 days,” said police officer Mudasir Ahmed.
The state’s judiciary has also been expressing concern over the growing drug menace. On August 20, 2017, the High Court directed the state government to “revisit the issue relating to control of drugs as per the experience gathered from other states and various international forums”.
A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “On the one hand state’s judiciary is concerned about drug menace, but on the other hand courts grant easy bail to drug peddlers. We need strict laws for uprooting this malady, otherwise it is impossible for police to stop this menace.”
In September 2017, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had directed senior police officials to use the most draconian laws, including the Public Safety Act (PSA), against those involved in the cultivation and smuggling of drugs, but her directions have had little effect.