Not a single person cultivating cannabis now, say officials, locals, crediting ‘educated youth’ for change
Shopian: Where there is a will, there is a way. The truth of this famous saying can be seen in Wachi hamlet of Shopian, where for the first time in the past many decades, people have abandoned the cultivation of cannabis. The credit for this goes to the local youths who convinced everyone, including their parents, that the cultivation of cannabis had only brought a bad name to their village.
Revenue officials in the area told Kashmir Reader that for the first time they could not find a single piece of land in Wachi where cannabis was being cultivated. They said that it were the immense efforts taken during the last three years, to eradicate the menace of cannabis cultivation and of its trade in the area, that have finally borne fruit.
Villages like Wachi, Malhura and adjoining areas were infamous for the cultivation of cannabis. Many villagers here used their agriculture and horticulture land to grow cannabis plants. Many of the local people, according to revenue officials, used to cover their cannabis fields by growing apple trees on the boundaries to avoid passersby noticing their crop.
Officials said that revenue and excise teams were even attacked by the cannabis growers in the past when they reached for cannabis destruction drives.
Parvaiz Ahmad Malik, a local from Melhura village, told Kashmir Reader that the credit goes to the educated youth who motivated their parents and neighbours to end the cultivation of cannabis. “It is true that there were some black sheep who wanted to continue cultivation of cannabis but most efforts to eradicate this crop were taken by educated youth. Today we find ourselves more than happy that nobody has grown it this year,” he said, adding that revenue and excise departments have held a survey in which they found not a single person growing cannabis this year, the first time it has been so in the last many decades.
Melhura and Wachi being low-lying areas, their soil is less fertile for apple or any other fruit. Locals in the area demand that government subsidy schemes should be initiated to rehabilitate the addicted youth so that cultivation of cannabis would be ended forever.
Tehsildar Zainpora, Fida Mohammad Bhat, told Kashmir Reader that officials were actively working during the last three years and now their task has been accomplished. “Come with me, you will not find a single person growing cannabis now. We took help of awareness programmes, used religious clerics to make people aware, besides keeping surveillance on the suspected orchards and fields,” he said.
Bhat thanked the locals for cooperating with the law enforcing agencies.
Bhat said that only wild cannabis is now left in the region, for which the revenue department is continuing destruction drives along with the excise department.
“It is, however, made clear that the quashment of the above complaints and proceedings initiated thereupon by the official respondents shall not be construed to be expression of any opinion about the veracity or otherwise of the allegations levelled in the complaints against the petitioners,” the court held.