In a peaceful corner of India, the serene state of Himachal Pradesh, a dark shadow looms over its picturesque landscapes. The escalating drug crisis has gripped the state, leaving families shattered and communities in despair. With a staggering 60 to 65 percent of its youth falling victim to drug addiction, the situation has reached an alarming level that demands urgent attention.
The stories that unfold in this mountainous region are harrowing. A young drug addict from Solan, Himachal Pradesh, pawned his family’s land, heavy machinery, and precious valuables to fuel his addiction to synthetic drugs, specifically “Chitta” or heroin. With no means to escape and tormented by withdrawal symptoms, he spent exorbitant amounts ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 45,000 to acquire just 8 grams of the deadly substance.
Another heart-wrenching tale involves a college student from Mandi district who resorted to borrowing, stealing, and even embezzling jewelry to finance his heroin addiction. His desperate parents turned to the local police, seeking help to send him to a rehabilitation center before it was too late.
The gravity of the drug overdose deaths in Kangra, Solan, Shimla, Una, and Kullu districts has sent shockwaves through the state, leaving parents terrified for their children’s safety.
While Himachal Pradesh was once infamous for the illegal cultivation of cannabis in the Parvati valley, known as the source of the finest “Malana Cream,” the surge in heroin and Chitta addicts has become an urgent issue. The Director General of Police, Sanjay Kundu, acknowledges that while the state still faces the challenge of meeting the high demands for marijuana and charas in metropolitan cities, the influx of synthetic drugs like Chitta, heroin, smack, and cocaine poses a significant threat.
Law enforcement agencies are well aware of the strategic routes used for drug trafficking. Notably, the Damtal-Nurpur Axis for heroin, the Baddi-Solan-Shimla Axis for heroin, and the Parvati valley Axis for cannabis have been identified as key hotspots. Additionally, most other drugs are entering Himachal Pradesh via Punjab from Pakistan, making their way into the hands of local drug peddlers.
The police have seized a disconcerting amount of injectables such as MDM, LSD, Morphine, and Chitta in various forms. Astonishingly, some young drug addicts have transitioned from being victims to becoming peddlers themselves. They travel to cities like Delhi, obtaining small consignments of drugs to sell for profit, perpetuating the vicious cycle of addiction.
The statistics paint a grim reality. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act has landed over 40 percent of the inmates in Himachal Pradesh’s 14 prisons, while more than 8000 NDPS cases await trial in various courts. The prison capacity, initially designed for 2400 individuals, now strains to accommodate 3000 inmates, underscoring the severity of the crisis.
Former Kangra Superintendent of Police, Ramesh Chajjta, highlighted another alarming aspect of the drug problem—a transformation of educational institutions into hubs for drug dealing. He revealed that 70 percent of students in private universities and 80 percent in a technical college in Solan district were under the influence of drugs, jeopardizing their education and future.
In response to this crisis, the Himachal Pradesh government is taking proactive measures. Approving the establishment of government drug de-addiction centers that function as shelters, the aim is to provide better.