Faced with menace of increased smuggling of drugs through Manali in Himachal Pradesh (HP) and also from Kashmir routes, the Union Territory (UT) administration in Ladakh is trying to hammer out means to keep the cold desert region free of drugs.
Umang Narula, advisor to the Lt. Governor, held the first meeting of Narco Coordination Center (NCORD) in Leh where senior officers of Police and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) also attended the meeting.
The Manali–Leh and Kashmir–Leh highways are being used by miscreants to smuggle narcotics to the cold desert region of Ladakh particularly during the tourist season when large numbers of domestic and foreign tourists visit Ladakh.
Intelligence agencies, police, NCB and other agencies were told to coordinate in plugging the smuggling routes.
Additional Director General of Police, Ladakh, SS Khandaker said that the department is in consultation with National Forensic Science University, Gujarat, for recruiting manpower and procuring the specialized equipment for combating drug trafficking and the use of illegal substances.
A dedicated canine squad is also in place which has been trained in narco and sniffer activities, the ADGP added.
The NCORD is a mechanism for effective coordination among all the drug enforcement agencies and other stakeholders and also to provide a common platform for discussions on drug-trafficking-related issues.
Deputy Director General (NR) NCB, Gyaneshwar Singh gave a comprehensive presentation on ‘NCORD Mechanism’ and the current drug scenario. He said that the number of drug users in India has increased by 7 times during the period 2004–2019.
While taking stock of the existing drug abuse cases and trafficking scenario in Ladakh, the Advisor stated that mass awareness campaigns in schools and colleges are of utmost importance as the drug menace mostly afflicts children and adolescents.
He also deliberated on the requirement of counseling centers, rehabilitation and drug de-addiction centers and reiterated that Drug users should be treated as victims who need rehabilitation and not as criminals.
To control drug abuse by tourists, the Advisor exhorted to display signage prohibiting consumption and trafficking of Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic substance in public places.
Principal Secretary, Health and Medical Education Dept, Dr Pawan Kotwal stressed the need for hiring experts like psychologists and psychiatrists to deal with substance abuse disorder on a grassroots level.