Anantnag: Thousands of kanals of land in Pulwama district and some other parts of south Kashmir are under poppy cultivation, the authorities having conveniently chosen to look the other way.
As per local sources, agricultural land in many areas like Koil, Chandgam, Baderwan, Beighpora, Padgampora Lajoora, Parigam, Wahibugh, Newa and many other villages of Pulwama district is being used for poppy cultivation.
The only thing that the authorities have been doing, in the name of fighting the drug menace, is destroying cannabis plants – most of which is only wild growth.
“The poppy, on the other hand, is not wild growth; it is careful cultivation by people who know well its uses. And the issue is that it is very much deadlier than the poor old cannabis,” local sources told Kashmir Reader.
The poppy plant, adorned by the most beautiful, colourful flowers, is cultivated for opium, apart from the poppy seeds used in bakery products in Kashmir.
The dried husk of the plant is also used as a narcotic substance and is one of the most sought after substances, in Kashmir and out of the valley as well.
“It is one of the most lucrative cash crops around, for everything of it – even its husk – fetches money. But the sad part is that it is illegal and many people here in south Kashmir seem to have forgotten that,” a civil society member from Pulwama told Kashmir Reader.
He lamented that the authorities, too, have forgotten that poppy cultivation is a menace. “It is going to ultimately take our own younger generation towards addiction and destruction,” he said.
While there is a permitted area which can be kept under poppy cultivation for the sole purpose of cultivating poppy seeds, the cultivation across Pulwama district is in clear violation of the norms.
“You can see that whole patches of the paddy fields are being used to cultivate poppy. If you and I can see that, why can’t the authorities?” the people in these areas said.
They alleged that it was impossible to cultivate poppy without the support of the authorities – who turn a blind eye towards the menace.
“And then money is spent on anti-drug addiction campaigns. But it is not nipped in the bud, as it can be,” locals lamented.
Deputy Commissioner Pulwama, Syed Abid, told Kashmir Reader that joint teams of excise, revenue and police sleuths have been formed.
“We are going to take stern action, without announcing it in advance. Very stern action is to be taken against offenders,” Abid said.
He said that a prior announcement of official action could lead to law and order situations.
“We are taking care of that. But let me assure you that exemplary action will be taken against offenders,” he said.