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From heaven on earth to a haven for drugs cultivation

South Kashmir is the worst hit region in terms of drug cultivation with large swathes of land being used to sow the narcotic plants

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From heaven on earth to a haven for drugs cultivation
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Anti-social elements in the Kashmir valley got a free run to sow the poppy, bhang, charas and fukki on the farmlands in a bid to earn quick bucks owing to the unrest. South Kashmir is the worst hit region in terms of drug cultivation with large swathes of land being used to sow the narcotic plants.

Figures released by the Excise Department of Jammu and Kashmir have revealed shocking details about the drug cultivation in the valley.

Poppy crop spread over 2,863 kanals (20 kanals= one hectare) of land was destroyed this year so far. Last year poppy crop spread over 2,873 kanals of land was destroyed by the Department.

This year, Bhang spread over 1,475 kanals of land has been destroyed. Last year, over 180 kanals of land where this crop was sowed was destroyed by the Department.

"Unrest has given some sort of leeway to anti-social elements to sow the contraband drugs with ease because police and law enforcing agencies are busy controlling the moband were not able to go deep into the village interiors," an officer involved in the drive said.

Poppy is sown in November and December and is generally harvested from April to mid of June. "Paddy sown on one kanal fetches Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 for a farmer. While sowing poppy on one kanal will fetch him Rs 70,000 to Rs 1,00,000," Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, Deputy Commissioner of Excise Department, said.

The officer noted that the Revenue Department has a big role to play because they have the land records available with them. "If the action is taken at the time of sowing, the menace will be fully eradicated in few years," he said.

It is not the Poppy or Bhang alone, but entire gamut of narcotics that is present in Kashmir. Some are even smuggled from the other side of the Line of Control for distribution in the country.

Official figures revealed that the police have seized 64 kilogramme of charas, 7.5 kilogramme of charas powder, 194 kilogramme of bhang and bhang dust, 925 kilogramme of fukki, 915 kilogramme of poppy straw and 3.75 kilogramme of brown sugar in different parts of the valley in 2016. Police also seized 26,457 intoxicating capsules, 10,553 such tablets, and 12,983 bottles of such syrup in 2016.

Around 312 persons were arrested in 2016 of whom 202 were prosecuted, and 26 others were booked under Public Safety Act (PSA), under which a person can be jailed without trial and bail up to two years. Similarly in 2015 police had registered 375 cases and arrested 442 people and 13 others have been booked under PSA.

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