Amid rise in cases of drug abuse and addiction, a unique initiative has been started for counseling of accused and their parents, besides conviction in cases, they have been arrested.

The Mandi district police have started the campaign with the ulterior motive of free the youth from drug menace, apart from taking strict action against drug peddling.

“We will counsel the parents and drug addicts to go for drug de-addiction programme as most the times, the main issue isn’t addressed in such cases,” Mandi Superintendent of Police, Gurdev Chand Sharma told The Statesman.

Sharma said once the addicts agree to join drug de-addiction programme, they would send such persons to Zonal Hospital, Mandi and Medical College at Ner Chowk for treatment.

So far, the police have identified 40 drug addicts in the district and they are planning to convince them to join the programme.

The police officials have been able to convince 4-5 drug addicts to go in for de-addiction programmes.

Most of the times, it has been seen that parents hesitate in acknowledging the problem or admitting their wards in hospitals for drug de-addiction, for the fear of facing humiliation in society.

If a family is well-off then they told to go for private drug de-addiction centres and if they can’t afford the treatment costs, then they are advised to go for government centres at Mandi and Ner Chowk where treatment is provided free of cost.

“To resolve the issue of non-willingness of parents and addicts, we have roped in Sarv Devta Samiti as they have influence over masses and almost all follows their diktats in letter and spirit,” Sharma added.

The Sarv Devta Samiti which consists of kardars (priests or caretakers) of local deities had agreed to the proposal of the Mandi police in a meeting that was held on Saturday. These samitis would now be the part of Nasha Nivaran Samitis that were constituted at Police Station level to curb the drug menace in the district.

The samitis had been briefed about the symptoms and causes for identifying drug addicts in their areas and discuss the issue with the parents of addicts.

The kardars will now act as counselors and motivate the addicts to join de-addiction programmes of the administration.

The Police officials are hoping that the step might help them in preventing the youth from falling into drug trap as their diktats are followed by one and all.

The step seems to have been taken as many youngsters were falling into drug trap as recently, the police had arrested five youth including a girl from a hotel and had recovered chitta (heroin) from their possession.

The initiative holds significance as 170 cases of drug peddling were registered in the district as compared to 151 cases that were registered in 2018.