June 26 is International Day Against Drug Abuse
New Delhi: India has witnessed a five-time (455 percent) increase in drug hauls over three years – 2011 to 2013 – according to data released by the government in parliament.
Officials have seized 105,173 tonnes of illegal drugs over this period, a reminder of a growing Indian problem on the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit trafficking, observed on June 26 by the UN.
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With nearly 18 percent of the world’s population in the 15-64 age-group, India is a prime market for illicit opiates originating in both Southeast Asia and Southwest Asia, according to the World Drug Report 2014.
The latest available data, from 2004, estimates that 10.7 million Indians – more than the population of Sweden – are drug users: 8.7 million consume cannabis and 2 million use opiates, according to a National Survey Report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the Indian ministry of social justice & empowerment.
Mizoram, Punjab and Manipur are among the states where people are most vulnerable to drug abuse. One reason could be their proximity to porous international borders and international drug-trafficking zones, such as the Golden Triangle (Myanmar, Thailand and Laos) and Golden Crescent (Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan).
Mizoram tops the list of states where drugs were seized: 48,209 tonnes over the past four years, followed by Punjab with seizures of 39,064 tonnes.
Some of the drugs seized include amphetamine, cannabis plant, cocaine, ephedrine, ganja, hashish, heroin, ketamine, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), acetic anhydride, methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA), methamphetamine, methaqualone (mandrax), morphine and opium.
A staggering 64,737 drug-trafficking cases have been reported in the past four years, with Punjab topping the list with 21,549 cases.
Punjab accounted for almost half of all cases registered in India under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) in 2013 as we reported earlier: 67 percent of rural households in Punjab have one drug or alcohol addict, while 70 percent of young men are addicted to drugs or alcohol, according to a government report based on surveys.
In Manipur, there are an estimated 45,000-50,000 drug addicts, of whom nearly half are users of injectible drugs.
Studies have also revealed that 12 percent of drug addicts are below the age of 15, while 31 percent are aged 16-25 and 56 percent are aged 25-35.
As many as 64,302 people, including foreigners, were arrested on drug-trafficking charges across India over the past four years.
Nepalese are the most arrested foreign nationals: 266 from 2011 to May 2014 followed by Nigerians (210) and Myanmarese (96).
In terms of drug smuggling, the India-Bangladesh border is most vulnerable with 1,607 cases reported from 2011 till June 2014, followed by India-Nepal (779), India-Myanmar (317) and India-Pakistan (120).