Since the beginning of April, the concerned authorities have cleared 1,000 kanal (122 acres) of land in Kashmir that had been used to grow poppy plants, a source of opium and heroin.
Last year as per the officials, 662 kanal of land had been cleared by the excise, revenue, and police departments in Jammu and Kashmir. But this year, between April 1 and May 17, the amount cleared increased to 982 Kanal. According to Jammu and Kashmir Excise Commissioner Pankaj Kumar Sharma, “We have destroyed the crop on a large scale. This year we have registered 18 first information reports (FIR) so far this year”.
On May 17, along with police and revenue officials, Sharma took part in a crop removal drive at the Dupatyar village of Bijbehara in the Anantnag district of south Kashmir. In Anantnag, the illegal cultivation in discrete patches of around three kanal and ten marlas was destroyed on the spot by the officials. Also, poppy crops were destroyed in various other villages of Kulgam and Shopian districts.
According to the officials, the cultivation of this drug is concentrated in four districts of south Kashmir: Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama, and Shopian. Sharma said, “Around 721 kanal poppy cultivation has been destroyed in these four districts”. He added, “In Kulgam alone, the figure is 450 kanal”.
The cultivation of poppy and marijuana was started by hundreds of farmers in Kashmir’s southern districts after the armed insurgency in 1989 in the valley because law enforcement and security forces concentrated on maintaining peace. However, as conditions have improved, the authorities have run annual drives to eradicate the illegal crop.
According to Sharma, law enforcement organisations keep up their ground-level efforts to combat the threat posed by illegal poppy and cannabis growing. He said, “We will take the struggle against narcotic crops to its logical conclusion”.
He stated that the department organises awareness campaigns in colleges, schools, blocks, and villages, including religious leaders—particularly imams and khateebs—during Friday prayers.
Excise and Taxation Officer (ETO) for the South Kashmir region Hamid Ganaie stated that the drives conducted to remove illegal crops were primarily during the poppy cultivation season held between April and May. Before launching any drive, authorities
geo-coordinate those places after conducting field surveys throughout the valley.
He said, “No accurate data is available. There are dedicated teams who conduct the surveys and collect evidence after which drives start”.
To curb the drug menace, the Modi government has stepped up in the war on drugs and has broken the spine of narco-terrorism and insurgency. The main backbone of the drug menace mainly happens in north-eastern states. In Assam alone, Rs 407 crore of drugs have been seized in 2022.
On April 19, during the inaugural event of the first National Conference of Anti-Narcotics Task Force, Amit Shah, the Union Home Minister, announced that India would be drug-free by 2047. He emphasised ‘Team India’ and the ‘whole of Government approach’ will help India escape the menace of drugs.