Mangaluru has been grappling with an exceptional rise in the number of cases registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. This activity is deemed a violation under Section 27 (B) of the NDPS Act. According to a recent report, a total of 299 individuals have been arrested this year in relation to 243 documented incidents involving the usage of narcotic substances. Out of these 299 individuals, 188 have been taken into custody starting from June 15 onwards.
Among teenagers, Marijuana, locally known as Ganja, accounts for 80 percent of drug use. According to Dr. Krithishree from Mangaluru KMC Hospital’s psychiatric department, children are now experimenting with different types of drugs, including synthetic substances like MDMA, which are more harmful than Ganja.
A group of parents in Mangaluru were surprised when their children suddenly became addicted to a piece of candy sold at a local shop for 20 Rs per piece. After consuming this popular candy, the children exhibited unusual behavior. Parental suspicion led to further investigation, and as things started unfolding, they were flabbergasted. An investigation by the authorities revealed that the candy, which looked like any other locally available chocolate, was laced with Marijuana. Mangaluru police raided two shops and seized a total of 120 kg of drug-laced chocolates, 85 kg from one shop and 35 kg from the other.
After the laboratory confirmed the presence of Marijuana in the chocolate packets, the accused individuals, Manohar Shet, 49, a resident of V.T. Road, and Bechan Sonkar, 45, a native of Goshi Tehsil of Uttar Pradesh, were charged under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. The accused were presented in court and remanded in judicial custody. Even though authorities raid and seal such shops frequently, parents are worried that they could re-emerge in a different form and at a different location.
Unlike previous generations, today’s children face a potentially riskier adolescence due to easy access to the internet, television, web series, and money. The vulnerable minds of teenagers, akin to unpredictable seas, are prime targets for drug traffickers. When teachers and parents fail to discover and support a child’s interest, they can feel ignored. Motivation from parents is often lacking, coupled with harsh discipline for minor mistakes. Such circumstances breed feelings of insecurity in children, which drug peddlers exploit.
These traffickers use clever methods to glorify children’s talents and build their confidence. Slowly, the neglected child becomes submissive and ends up blindly trusting the stranger. The traffickers then manipulate their minds, convincing them that drugs will enhance intelligence and self-assurance.
How to Identify and Prevent?
Being an attentive parent is the basic and most important step. If you suspect that your child is caught in a drug trap, carefully observe their behavior. Unusual changes in their eyes, mouth, and body movements, reluctance to attend school, excessive eating, etc., could indicate substance abuse. Providing counseling and psychotherapy can help bring individuals struggling with drug addiction back to a normal and healthier life. Peer groups significantly influence children. Establishing a vigilance committee could prove advantageous in preventing children from yielding to temptations. This committee might comprise parents, teachers, local community members, and households near schools. Collaboratively, they can monitor children and identify any negative-influence groups that might be present around the locality.
How Can Schools Help?
If a child is caught using drugs at school, the initial response of giving them a TC and expelling them might seem well-intentioned. Schools must also think about their reputation and ensure the safety of other students. However, this approach can unintentionally push the affected child further into the abyss of addiction. Focusing on their positive qualities and offering support, counseling, and medication when needed is more beneficial than punitive measures.
Hopeful ‘Drug-Free Mangaluru’ Drive
Following the call by Home Minister G. Parameshwara, since June 2023, the city police have undertaken the ‘Drug-Free Mangaluru’ drive along with the Dakshina Kannada district administration to free the coastal districts from drugs and addictive substances.
Significantly, this marks the first instance where the city police are employing provisions from the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances (PIT NDPS) Act against drug peddlers. According to a report by The Hindu, Police Commissioner Kuldeep Kumar R. Jain disclosed that narcotic drugs worth ₹1.01 crore have been seized this year, leading to the arrest of 106 drug peddlers in connection with 52 cases. As part of their efforts, the city police have engaged with 98,043 students and 9,533 teachers from 228 educational institutions to raise awareness about drug-related issues. Additionally, the police have planned to extend this outreach to a total of 1.5 lakh students and 15,485 teachers from 288 educational institutions in the city. The city police have conducted four surprise inspections of 1,043 small shops located within 100 meters of educational institutions; levied fines on the owners of 215 shops that were caught selling cigarettes – one of the gateways to drug consumption, as stated by Mr. Jain.
Even though the authorities are doing their best, it is a tough task for the police and the concerned officials to fight narcotics without the support of civil society. Remember that the responsibility to protect, guide, and nurture our children falls not only on parents and teachers but also on society as a whole.