According to Magray Mansoor, a social activist and chairperson of Civil Society Shopian, he had learnt that even some young women were also taking drugs

Shopian district, the hub of new-age terrorism in Kashmir, is fast becoming an epicentre of heroin abuse as it is the most prevalent drug among the young abusers.

Shopian in south Kashmir emerged on the radar of security forces immediately after the killing of the poster boy of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen Burhan Wani in July 2016. After the killing of Burhan, the area remained out of bounds for security forces due to the relentless protests for nearly seven months, with terrorists seen moving around freely and posting their videos as well.

Since December 2021, when the Addiction Treatment Facility (ATF) centre at District Hospital Shopian was made functional, 24 patients have reported at the facility for treatment. The data reveals most of them were aged between 17 to 25 years and were caught in the throes of drugs like heroin.

“Of 24 patients, 23 revealed that they were taking heroin and the youngest patient we received at the facility was barely 17 years old,” Dr Adil Farooq Mir, a medical officer at the Centre said.

He said the abusers began using the hard drugs once they developed resistance to the prescription drugs which is quite worrisome.

According to Magray Mansoor, a social activist and chairperson of Civil Society Shopian, he had learnt that even some young women were also taking drugs. “The drug addiction is on the rise and if we fail to check the menace, it will ruin our young generation,” he said and added that at least four persons have died due to drug abuse in the area in the last few years.

A senior police officer said that after a crackdown on Hawala channels by security agencies, terrorist handlers in Pakistan started sending heroin to Kashmir. “As people in Shopian are well-off due to its apple economy, the terror handlers made it sure that young boys in the area get addicted towards drugs so that they get fertile field for recruitment,” he revealed.

Shahid Dar (name changed), from Shopian, who is undergoing treatment at a government drug de-addiction facility in Srinagar, said one of his terrorist friends introduced him to heroin in 2019.

He (terrorist friend) not only made him an addict but in time also made him a drug peddler. “One day I was given one kg packet of heroin by my terrorist friend and told me if I succeed in delivering it in Srinagar, I will be paid Rs 2 lakh,” he said.

The packet, Ahmad delivered, in Srinagar had in bold letters written “Not for sale to Muslims, only for Kafirs (non-believers).”

“At the address where I delivered the packet, I was given Rs 18 lakh which I gave to my militant friend. He gave me Rs 2 lakh as a reward. After a few weeks, the militant was killed in an encounter with security forces and some cash was recovered from his possession,” he said.

As per Dar, most of the Pakistani terrorists, who come to Kashmir, are being given one kg of heroin by spy agency ISI at the time of crossing over to this side of the Line of Control (LoC). “The Pakistani terrorists then sell the heroin in Kashmir through their local contacts. Thus the money generated is utilised for terror activities,” he revealed.

Some time back a Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid had published an interview with an Afghan official where the latter asserted that: “Opium is permissible because it is consumed by Kafirs (non-believers) in the West and not by Muslims or Afghans.”