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40% prisoners now in Himachal’s crowded jails are linked to drug cases

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Shimla: As many as 40 per cent of the prisoners in Himachal Pradesh’s crowded jails are linked to drug cases reflecting the growing spread of the deadly menace in the hill state.

The number of such convicts and under-trials is likely to shoot up this year, according to senior police officials.

The top police brass is also worried that while the state’s jails have a total capacity to lodge 2,400 prisoners, Himachal Pradesh already has 3000 inmates which is giving rise to problems.

Over two dozen drug overdose deaths, mainly youths in the age group of 21 to 27, during the past two months is another dark side of the drug story in Himachal Pradesh.

The large quantities in which the psychotropic and addictive drugs are flowing in despite strict measures, law enforcement and public campaigns against the menace, is causing grave concern.

More than 8,000 Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) cases are pending in courts while another 7,000 are under investigation or awaiting trial.  As much as 358 kg of charas seized, 2120 persons arrested during 2022, of which 92 were women and 13 foreigners are the grim aspects of the dismal scenario.

“What’s actually caught is just the tip of the iceberg,” admits Yunus, Commissioner Excise and taxation, formerly DC Kullu.

Director General of police Sanjay Kundu said he has asked the state government to increase the capacity of the prisons in Himachal Pradesh to 5000 and also set-up special courts for the speedy trial of cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Pyschotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in view of the exponential rise in the drug offences. The coming years are going to witness more chaos as the drug menace is growing, he added.

In 2021-22, Himachal Pradesh police introduced Register no 29 in all police stations to record details and particulars of persons, involved in drug trafficking and booked under the NDPS Act to prepare a database for analysis to ensure better prevention of crimes. All SPs have been asked to monitor every single offender released from jails irrespective of the fact that the accused were suspects, under trial or convicts.

The drug trafficking registers reveal that there are over 2200 active drug smugglers in the state out of which about 400 are repeat offenders. The police have powers to confiscate their properties raised through ill-gotten money.

The list of drugs seized during 2022 by the police include 13 kg of “Chitta” or heroin 378 kg Charas, 16 kg of Opium apart from Smack 60 kg, Brown sugar 22 gm, LSD 108 gm, Cocaine 15 kg . Besides  Methadone,Tramadole and poppy husk have also been seized.

The state and national politicians have also told the agencies to act now before it is too late. Union home Minister Amit Shah during BJP’s election campaign admitted that the drug problem in Himachal Pradesh had reached an alarming level and needed strong steps to save the youths.

Also Read: Why are people going missing in Himachal’s beautiful Parvati valley?

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