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Narco-terrorism rises in Jammu and Kashmir, with Shopian at its centre | India News – Times of India

SRINAGAR: Narco-terrorism is the emerging and urgent threat facing Jammu and Kashmir as Pakistan-based terrorist groups and their promoters are pushing drugs into the troubled region to fund their activities after Indian agencies choked most of their cash channels, including the often-used hawala route. Reports suggest the hub of this narco-trade is southern Kashmir’s Shopian district, also called the apple bowl, about 50km from Srinagar.
DGP Dilbag Singh last week called attention to the drugs menace in J&K, saying it’s a new and deadlier challenge because narcotics will provide oxygen to terrorism as well as ruin the younger generation, and eventually the entire social fabric. Singh said J&K must fight the twin threats of terrorism and drugs collectively, with people and security forces joining an intensified war.
Consignments manage to sneak through the security net and reach their destinations—mostly Shopian, according to reports. Terrorism in this southern district increased manifold after the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani in 2016, with their Pakistani handlers supplying drugs, mainly heroin, to fund their dreadful activities.
Shopian is an attractive target for drug dealers because the district is relatively well-off, trading the famed Kashmiri apple from its vast orchards, a police officer said. A police survey found that drugs are sold on the cheap in bulk to attract peddlers, letting them earn more than those who bring the substance—mostly Pakistani terrorists in the south Kashmir areas. “The first dose is free, almost always. Once someone gets hooked on it, he starts buying. That’s how the cycle kicks in and drugs become a mainstay for sustaining terrorism,” the officer said.
That drug abuse has crept into the close-knit Kashmiri society could be gauged from the number of patients at Shopian district hospital’s addiction treatment facility (ATF) that opened in December 2021. Two dozen people had come for treatment so far—all between 17 and 25 years of age. All but one seeking help wasn’t a heroin addict, said Dr Adil Farooq Mir of the centre.
In a Srinagar rehab, a young addict from Shopian said one of his “militant friends” introduced him to heroin in 2019 and made him a peddler as well. “A kg of heroin fetched me Rs 2 lakh the first time I sold drugs. My friend taught me to sell it,” he said.
The police run 10 de-addiction centres—including two large ones in Jammu and Srinagar. DGP Singh said more than 6,000 people are being treated at these facilities in a single year. “We have qualified doctors, counselors and staff.”
The need of the hour is to choke the supply chain as Kashmir sits close to Afghanistan, the global distributor of heroin, said social activist Magray Mansoor. At least four addicts have died in Shopian in the past few years, he said. “If we fail to check the menace, it will ruin our young generation.”
Police have evidence of the drugs trade’s volume and the numbers are worrying. The Army and BSF guarding the LoC and the international border with Pakistan had seized huge quantities of drugs over the years.
A recent case being the shooting of three Pakistani men trying to smuggle narcotics through a plastic pipe set across the fence on the international border in Samba district of Jammu region. About 36kg of drugs were found. Over the past year, BSF seized 79 kg of heroin in the Jammu Frontier and killed nine smugglers. The Army too has found backpacks full of drugs on “infiltrators” along the LoC. These consignments from Pakistan come in packets with “for use of Kafirs” written in bold on them, making the intention clear.

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