|Published : 15 Oct 2016, 21:39:52|
Monster of drug abuse returns
Instead of the brutal anti-drug campaign now in place in the Philippines, we need to focus on fruitful advocacy and rehabilitation, writes Shihab Sarkar
The disconcerting scenes of a section of people, mostly the young vagabonds, taking drugs in the open in Dhaka have staged a comeback. Lower-class social dropouts taking dopes on footpaths in small groups are a common sight nowadays. Addiction to synthetic and abusive drugs kills the human qualities in man. The people hooked to doping eventually become bereft of normal sensitivities, reflexes and the faculty of sympathy. Upon becoming impervious to fellow feeling, a number of them at one stage degenerate into criminals. Human lives hold little value to them, nor their own lives. The photograph of a youth deep asleep, apparently numbed by drug, on a flyover road divider tells it all --- both the addicts' desperation and criminal insouciance. No civilised country lets a drug addict drift away and being caught in a deadly whirlpool of destruction.
In spite of the regular busting of drug dens by the agencies concerned, these substances always remain available in the country. They could not be rooted out completely. Apart from the capital, drugs of different types have begun flooding, once again, the cities and towns across the country. Distressingly enough, after remaining free of the urban scourges for ages, the villages too have started falling victim to them. The halcyon days of the pristine and idyllic rural areas seem to be virtually over. In the last few decades, even the remote villages of the country have found themselves being polluted with substance abuse. The spurt in hideous crimes, notably sexual assault on minor girls and their killing, is being blamed by experts on the monstrous spells of drugs.
The vulnerability of Bangladesh in terms of availability of drugs chiefly stems from its geographical location. The country is used as a drug supply route connecting Southeast Asia with India, Afghanistan and beyond. Most of these drugs originate in a few countries in Southeast Asia. They have long been smuggled into Bangladesh to end up in the far-away Western countries. The border of the country with the Southeast Asia region at Teknaf now serves as the chief conduit for drug running. Thanks to the stringent surveillance of the country's border guards, the previous wholesale entry of drugs into the country could be checked. But the menace could not be wiped out. Still, a large amount of drugs spill over into the hands of the local drug syndicates. Large supplies of them, including Yaba tablets, reach the country's capital and other cities. Meanwhile, the supply of the notorious phensidyl syrup from across the Indian part of the country's south-western border could not be stopped effectively. Drug syndicates on both sides of the border help in the spread of the devastating syrup throughout the country. Besides, there is the dreadful heroin, which reaches the country through various clandestine routes. Of all the drugs available in Bangladesh, this one has taken its greatest toll on the country's youths.
Notwithstanding the availability of psychoactive drugs after a supposed comeback, their main supply lines have largely been broken. It has been possible due to vigorous campaigns through the mass media, advocacy by the civil society groups, and strengthened anti-drug drives by law-enforcement agencies. If properly implemented, the anti-drug law (Narcotics Control Act, 1990) is stringent enough to prevent substance abuse. However, drug syndicates and their patrons are always on the hunt for legal loopholes. Experts thus have, ceaselessly, been vocal to make the drug prevention laws foolproof.
Bangladesh cannot afford to look the other way when the signs of the comeback of drugs are getting evident by the day. Instead of the brutal anti-drug campaign now in place in the Philippines, we need to focus on fruitful advocacy and rehabilitation. At the same time, anti-drug laws need to be updated in accordance with the newer devices of drug smuggling and peddling.