Drug menace in city: Beware of sharks waiting to pounce on innocents

Mangalore, Feb 10: It is indeed commendable to see the district administrative machinery pledging to the fight the menace of drugs in the city. It is however, annoying to note that it needed a wakeup call in the form of Sneha’s death for all concerned to come together and demonstrate their resolve to fight against the menace. While it is laudable for being late than never in their doggedness to fight the evil of drugs, there are many question that remain unanswered.

For quite some time now parents and children of high school and college going students were apprehensive about the activities of drug mafia which was believed to be active in Mangalore targeting mainly the youth. Many parents of young students had expressed their concern to the school authorities during their school/college admissions only to be assured that they will be safe. I remember parents saying they feel ‘scary’ sending their children to colleges. Sadly now this scary situation has become a reality!


Hand in Glove or Lethargic

Contrary to assurances from college authorities, leading counselors of the city who have been regularly handling young drug victims of the city, might be able to give an appalling figure of the number of drug addiction cases they have been handling on a daily basis. It is not that the police and the district administration that have now shown willingness to fight the evil were oblivious to the happenings around them. They knew very well but were either hand in glove with the city’s drug mafia or were too lethargic thinking it is safer to live with the problem than to fight it.

Take for example, in July 2012, police had arrested four youth for smoking ganja in a public place in Shaktinagar. In September 2012, Bunder police had arrested four college students who were trying to sell ganja and newspaper reports suggested they were all students of some of the well known colleges in the city. There was also an incident of a young college student being caught by police in Kulshekar two years who was possessing drugs. These are just a few examples and there might be many more such incidents which might have escaped our eyes. These incidents should have been like an eye opener to the police and the administration but sadly nothing was done.

After Sneha’s suicide episode police have conducted raids on some of the suspected petty shops but could not find anything. It is now believed that these shops were raided based on the earlier complaints received from public who suspected them to be selling drugs. A police official who did not want to be named says there are informers (within and outside) who warn these shops about the impending police raids. Naturally, they go scot free because nothing is found during raids. Vandana, a homemaker says in Lalbagh there was this petty shop owner who doubled up as a swami and indulged in selling drugs for quite some time.

Similarly there is a petty shop near circuit house and youngsters from different parts of the city come in their bikes to this shop just to smoke cigarettes or that is what we are made to believe. This has been happening for more than two decades and the general public is suspecting that there is something fishy going on here. There have been one or two raids on the shop long ago but without any results mainly because it is believed that informers had alerted them in advance about such raids. Imagine, this happens under the very nose of the police because there is a police station at a stone’s throw away from this petty shop.


Sneha

The very fact that Sneha had called up the child helpline and also the police complaining about her house arrest when her parents had prohibited her from going out, should have swung the police into action. Surprisingly they just donned the role of counselors suggesting her parents to provide her treatment rather than trying to ferret out details from her in order to catch the real kingpins who were targeting our youth and make them drug addicts.

Sneha’s parents have done a service to the society by coming out in the open about their daughter knowing full the discomfiture and stigma they might face following the death of their daughter due to drugs. There must have been many more Snehas and double that number of boys whose lives might have withered due to their drug addiction.


Mafia lures Innocent Children

A senior counselor with years of teaching experience to her credit, divulges that high school and college students easily fall prey not only to drugs but to other nefarious activities. Requesting her anonymity (as it is a private matter) she gave the example of a 12 year old boy who was lured by another kind of mafia, to steal car logos. Remember the missing logos of leading brands of car in the city? The police who had caught hold of the boy had found 56 logos in the terrace of his home and the well-to-do parents of the boy who were ignorant of it, were shell shocked on learning what their child was into it. This boy was believed to have been coaxed by a gang who promised money for every logo he stole. The boy who comes from a well off family was lured by the easy money promised by the gang which used him for this wicked activity. Luckily for the boy, the counselor says, he fell into the hands of a good police official who was considerate and hence the boy could be reformed.

Similarly the counselor also tells the chilling story of another primary school boy who was used by drug peddlers as a conduit. This boy was from a poor background and he was promised Rs 100 just for delivering a small pocket. This boy who suddenly began to handle money did not know how to spend it. He began to distribute packets of biscuits to his classmates regularly and his generosity saved him from a greater calamity. Teachers who suspected something was amiss and were shocked to learn the child was used for peddling drugs. Of course, the police caught the real culprit behind this case. The counselor who handled the counseling for the boy learnt that the boy came from a poor background and one of the teachers in the class regularly chided him for wearing torn or dirty clothes. As the boy had only one pair he was not able to wash the uniform regularly. So when he was promised of Rs. 100 just for handing over a small packet to someone he did not suspect anything and easily pocketed the ‘gift’ of Rs. 100/-.

This counselor also gives example of PUC boys of some reputed colleges who are always found smoking in the parking lots of some of the malls of the city. “They come in uniforms from their homes but wear casual clothes inside. Once they come to the city they pack their uniforms in their bags and enjoy their freedom. Parents are unaware of this kind of behaviour from their children”, she points out.

Add to that is the fact that some college lecturers send the boys out of their class for weeks together even for silly crimes like talking in the class. The college authorities do not inform the parents about this. Nowhere to go and with lot of time of hand, these boys and girls end up enjoying in the malls and fall prey to bad activities.

Sometimes even school/college authorities are also helpless. A headmistress of a city school narrates an incident of a 9th standard girl of her school going out with her boyfriend during PT class as the teacher was absent. She used the telephone from a shop nearby to call her boyfriend (they are not allowed to carry mobiles) and zoomed off in the bike. “Though parents blame us we cannot do anything in such instances” says this helpless headmistress.

While Sneha’s parents should be commended for their bravery it is also a stark reminder for parents to keep a watch on their children and also on their peers. Peer pressure being the biggest source of influence, it is necessary to keep an eye on their friends apart from keeping a watch on their own children.

The district administration and the police need to keep up the tempo of their fight against the drug menace and save the precious lives of our children.