Mangaluru’s drug problem alarming

Mangaluru’s drug problem alarming

Marijuana

Mangaluru, the headquarters of Dakshina Kannada district, appears to be headed the Punjab way with drug abuse, which has been prevalent there for nearly three decades among youngsters, especially students, now becoming rampant. Way back in 1991, the Link Anti-Addiction Citizens Committee (LAACC) had first launched a campaign against substance abuse, but many such efforts by NGOs over the years do not seem to have borne any fruit, with the problem only aggravating over time. The situation has reached alarming proportions of late, and several drug-related crimes, including murders, have been reported. It is thus heartening that Mangaluru police have now woken up to declare a war on drugs in the port city.

A study conducted by Nitte University has revealed that nearly half (48.78%) the addicts had their first exposure to narcotics in college, while some 12% of them had tried drugs even before they had turned 18, with marijuana being the most popular narcotic substance. Mangaluru, an international education centre with students from over 35 countries, is a soft target for drug peddlers who set their eyes on the vulnerable age group of 18 to 30 years. Peer pressure, easy availability of narcotics outside college premises and students themselves turning peddlers to fund their addiction, have only accentuated the problem. Though the city and its surrounding areas are on the way to becoming the ‘drug capital’ of Karnataka, no stakeholder, be it parents, student bodies, educational institutions or local politicians, has addressed the issue with the seriousness it deserves.

The police have been regularly cracking down on drug peddlers, but this is the first time a sustained drive has been launched. With Police Commissioner Sandeep Patil personally leading the charge, many notorious drug peddlers have been arrested and booked under the stringent Goonda Act. Banned substances worth several lakhs of rupees have been seized from them. The police have also initiated a programme to educate youngsters about the ill-effects of drugs. While these moves deserve appreciation, unless the police identify the source of supply and dismantle the entire apparatus from the root, there will be no end to this menace. It is also imperative to post policemen in plain clothes around educational institutions to apprehend the culprits. It should also be made mandatory for all schools and colleges in the district to appoint a counsellor to ensure that children do not go astray. The narcotics problem in communally sensitive Mangaluru is a bomb ticking away and could explode at any time. Now that the police have finally realised the gravity of the situation, the government should give them a free hand so that the lives of innocent youngsters are not consumed by drugs.