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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Udta Kumaon: Rising smack trade poses grave threat to youth, police crackdown continues

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Bhonpuram Khabari, Rudrapur: The tranquil landscapes of the Kumaon region in the state, are marred by an alarming surge in the illicit drug trade, particularly the smuggling of heroin, commonly known as smack. Termed “Udta Kumaon,” this growing menace is transforming the region into a hub for narcotics, hollowing out the aspirations of the youth from the foothills to the hilly districts.

The epicentre of this crisis appears to be the district Udham Singh Nagar, where recent arrests highlights the gravity of the situation. Last week, a smuggler was held by Kashipur police with 502 grams of smack. The following day, the Special Task Force and Pulbhatta police confiscated 537 grams and arrested another smuggler. Haldwani, another significant city in Kumaon, has also witnessed seizures totalling around 300 grams in just last month.

As per the police records, the drug’s origin is traced to places like Bareilly’s Fatehganj, Baheri, Mirganj, Guladiya, and Pilibhit. From here, it reaches Kichha, Khatima, and Nanakmatta, serving as transit points before being further distributed to Champawat, Pithoragarh, and even Nepal. The pricing dynamics are striking, with its cost soaring from Rs 1,200 per gram in Uttar Pradesh to Rs 7,000 per gram in the hill districts.

Notably, data from the IG Kumaon office underscores the escalating issue. In Almora, seizures escalated from 0.428 kg in 2021 to 0.126 kg in the year 2022 and 0.159 kg in 2023 (till March). Similarly, Bageshwar recorded 0.178 kg in 2021, dwindling to 0.107 kg in the year 2022 and 0.009 kg in 2023. In Pithoragarh, 0.082 kg smack was seized in the year 2021, 0.072 kg in the year 2022 and 0.041 kg in the year 2023., while in Champawat, 0.744 kg in the year 2021, 1.324 kg in the year 2022 and 0.298 kg in the year 2023. The crisis is particularly severe in Nainital, which witnessed a spike from 2.076 kg in 2021 to 4.558 kg in the year 2022 and 1.209 kg in 2023 so far.

Udham Singh Nagar, described as a stronghold for various drugs, encountered 3.818 kg in 2021, 3.418 kg in the year 2022 and 2.500 kg in 2023 till now. This deeply concerning trend indicates the urgent need for intensified law enforcement action. District;’s SSP Manjunath TC said, “We are working tirelessly to ensure that we will safeguard people against the devastating consequences of drug addiction. I assure the public that the police force will continue its proactive stance, collaborating with various stakeholders to curb this menace”.

IG Kumaon Nilesh Anand Bharne said, “The scourge of drug trafficking, particularly the rising menace of heroin, in the Kumaon region, is a matter of grave concern. The recent surge in smack seizures underscores the severity of the situation and the urgent need for concerted action. Law enforcement agencies are actively engaged in identifying and apprehending those responsible for perpetuating this illicit trade. Our commitment to eradicating this menace remains unwavering. We are resolute in our efforts to dismantle the networks facilitating the distribution of narcotics”.

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