Taking a hard line against drug peddlers, abusers
Syed Ishtiaque Reza, Editor-in-Chief of GTV & sarabangla.net : The ongoing drive against drug smugglers, trader and users seemingly turned into a bloodbath. The crackdown on narcotics in parts of the country left 28 alleged drug peddlers dead in just six days. Expressing her government’s firm stance against drugs, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said it will completely eradicate the menace from the country as it did in the case of militancy. “We’ve contained militancy. Now, we’ve taken an initiative to save the country from drug menace.
In recent years, drug addiction has significantly increased in Bangladesh. This agent of human devastation has spread its tentacles to every nook and corner. As things stand, the government’s nationwide campaign against illegal drug trafficking and abuse is seen to draw the all-out support of all sectors of the society.
Although the crackdown is being conducted by the law enforcing agencies, truly the objective should be involving everybody in the fight against the dreaded “drug peddlers.”
These drug peddlers continue to unleash knockout punches against the country’s youngsters, making unnecessary inroads into the solidarity of our families. When we welcome the government for this drive, we also think that the total war against the drug menace may not succeed without the support of the people.
Although the masses support the clampdown, there are concerns too. The aggressive drive has started catching the attention of local and international media and human rights groups because of its bloody nature. It is strongly perceived that drug peddling has increased alarmingly for lack of effective drives by law enforcers, forcing the young generation into drug addiction. Hope the law enforcers will remain careful so innocents do not become victims.
Drugs are big business. Every year huge quantity of yaba and other materials are seized by police, RAB and BGB. But it is reasonable to assume that at least an equal amount may have got through the net. Nobody sets out in life to become a drug addict or substance abuser; it is a gradual process, poverty and unemployment are regularly cited by researchers as to the reasons for people becoming addicted or substance abusers. Though primarily drug addiction is largely seen among the male population, there is a significant number of females vulnerable to drug abuse.
As part of the drive against the drug menace, the law enforcers, narcotics department, customs department and border forces have to be more vigilant to thwart any activities of drug smuggling and peddling. Equally important are rehabilitation measures, which have to be stepped up.
We also need to update The Narcotics Control Act,1990. Officials at the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) and law enforcers say, there are some loopholes in the existing laws. Arrested drug dealers making use of those loopholes can easily secure bail soon after their detention, thus, getting away with their crimes. Also, in remote areas, local terms are used for narcotic substances instead of their brand names or scientific names. Police too use those informal local names in case statements and charge sheets, which, in turn, reduce the magnitude and severity of crimes committed by drug addicts and peddlers. To address the loopholes in the Narcotics Control Act 1990 and modernize it, the government has prepared the draft “Narcotics Control Act 2018”, with much stricter punitive measures to fight substance abuse in the country, according to the officials concerned.
We believe that the government would finally formulate a comprehensive, implementable and workable act. There are allegations against members of the police that they implicate commoners as drug peddlers in “false” cases to harass and extort money from them. The authorities concerned must take into cognizance the issue of potential abuse of the stricter provisions. There are also allegations that a section of public representatives, police and officials and employees of DNC are involved in the drug peddling.
Drive is welcomed and so is punishment. But these are not enough to control drug abuse. Therefore, we have decided to have all, including the civil society and social organizations, on board and work together to this end. If we can successfully do this, only then it will be possible to combat substance abuse and drug peddling in the country.