State launches new drug policy
KOHIMA, JUNE 26 : After years of advocacy and pressure from health activists for formulation of a drug policy, the ‘Nagaland State Drug Abuse Prevention & Treatment Policy 2016’ was finally launched today in the state capital, coinciding with the observation of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
Minister for Social Welfare, Kiyanilie Peseyie, who officially launched the drug policy booklet at a function held here at Hotel Japfü, Kohima, said that drug trafficking, once viewed largely as a social and criminal problem, has evolved in the recent years into a major threat to the health and security of people and regions.
While stating that the government has a responsibility to counteract both drug trafficking and drug abuse, he maintained that communities including families, schools, civil societies, media and church organizations can also make major contributions.
“We can succeed if we reinforce our commitment to the basic principles of health and human rights, shared responsibility, a balanced approach to reducing supply and demand, and universal access to prevention, treatment and support,” the politician said.
He pointed out that the Nagaland State Drug Abuse Prevention & Treatment Policy was drafted by various state departments, NGOs and heal and social activists, and was approved by the state cabinet with the wide objective to curb the drug problem through collective and coordinated efforts.
The Social Welfare department will be the state’s nodal agency for coordinating and implementation of the newly launched policy, with a ‘Committee of Concern’ headed by the Chief Secretary and assisted by the Nagaland State AIDS Control Society (NSACS).
Chief Secretary, Pankaj Kumar admitted that the new drug policy is not the “final word” as government policies are statements of intent. He stated that as the policy is worked on, certain issues can be incorporated to make it function better and the state government will see to it that the policy is implemented and operated in the most effective manner possible.
Remarking that drugs pose a very real and deep danger to the society such as great economic loss, massive health problems and also put the whole productivity of the society at risk, therefore, bureaucrat underscored, the society and the government must fight this menace with all means available at their disposal. To begin with such measure is to control the supply side by enforcing affective regulations to check drugs from entering as well as transiting the state, he pointed out.
“It is always a strategy of drug suppliers to keep vested interests along the drug route, so that, as the drugs move to the most lucrative centres, the population which are on the way are also addicted or have a vested interest in maintaining the supply,” Kumar stated, and stressed the need to identify such pockets and tackle them appropriately.
“What we see today, and what we seize, are a tip of the iceberg,” he voiced concern and stressed the need for the entire system to recommit and work together to fight against drug trafficking and abuse in the state.
Emphasizing that awareness of the masses and sensitization of police/excise personnel followed by strengthening the treatment and rehabilitation of victims should be taken up on priority, the chief secretary called upon all the stakeholders to rededicate themselves towards achieving what they are striving to achieve.
According to IGP Crime, I Toshitsungba, the greatest challenges that the society and law enforcers face today are arms and ammunition trafficking, human trafficking, and drug trafficking and drug abuse, and the biggest victims are the youth. He highlighted that Nagaland’s problem roots from two main fronts- medico restricted drugs from neighbouring Assam side and others from Myanmar side.
Citing the data of seizures made by the state under NDPS in the last five years, he said 130 cases were registered in 2012 where 199 persons were arrested, 244 cases in 2013 with 381 arrests, 309 in 2014 with 175 arrests, 306 in 2015 with 482 arrests, and 123 cases were already registered from January-May this year alone and 152 persons arrested. Most of the seizures were of ganja, opium, brown sugar, spasmo proxyvon, nitrozepam, cough syrup, IMFL etc.
During the programme, Nagaland State Legal Services Authority (NSLSA) member secretary gave an insight on the NSLSA Scheme 2015 which provides for legal services to victims of drug abuse and eradication of drug menace, while former Naga Mothers’ Association president and social worker Neidonuo Angami delivered the social perspective on the need to break the walls of demand and supply of drugs, and how the society as a whole holds the responsibility to tackle the drug menace.
Kripa Foundation director, Abou Mere, who is said to have been instrumental in pushing for the setting up of the state drug policy, also delivered a brief speech on the occasion.