‘War on drugs’ may only result in short-term success
Syed Mahfujul Haque Marjan, Faculty Member of Criminology, University of Dhaka : The drive against illegal drugs across the country, being carried out by the law enforcement agencies, has raised many questions with respect to its desired success. Statistics show around 50 drug dealers are killed in different shootouts with different security agencies in the last ten days. But according to expert opinion, the ongoing raids can only bring a short-term success rather than a long-term one.
However, the problem of drugs is not new in Bangladesh as it has a long history in this part of the world. Starting 1773, the erstwhile East India Company tried to monopolize the opium trade in the Indian subcontinent. In the colonial era, the British policy enhanced the promotion and addiction of the illegal drugs in Bangladesh.
With the drug trade continuing, Bangladesh in course of time became strategically significant for the drug traders. Bangladesh is located among the three notorious drug regions of the world: in the East, Golden Triangle; in the North Golden Wedge and in the West, Golden Crescent. Golden Crescent engages Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran and it also connects Central, South and Middle of Asia. Golden Triangle lies among Myanmar, Thailand and Laos. And, a few areas of neighbouring India have become another illicit drug zone which called Golden Wedge. Different areas of Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh, Nepal and Bhutan are supplying illegal opium to different areas of the world.
The proximity of Bangladesh with those areas has made drug abuse as one of our major national concerns. Studies suggest there are nearly seven million druggies in Bangladesh now. Most of them are addicted to yaba, which is even found in the remote areas. The addiction of yaba pills has now become an epidemic. In 2010, different agencies seized 8 lakh 12 thousand seven hundred 16 yaba tablets; the figure jumped to two crore 94 lakh 50 thousand 178 across the country in 2016. In 2002, police filed nine thousand 18 cases of drug recovery, and in 2015, the number rose to 47 thousand 692.
It is estimated that every month nearly three crore yaba tablets are being smuggled in Bangladesh. The country has a yaba market-size of 12 to 15 thousand crore taka per annum. So, it appears that Bangladesh has become the most attractive zone of yaba trade. Despite the fact, the government and other law enforcement agencies did not take any stringent measures to combat this business. Many newspapers reported that several public representatives are linked to this business.
We would argue that the government’s current ‘war on drugs’ might be proved not that effective in the long-run, for removing drug abuse from the society. The godfathers of this illegitimate business should be arrested first. We have noticed that there is no significant success in capturing the godfather of yaba business.
Having said that, we also want to emphasize that either the gunfight or capturing cannot be the solution to eradicate drug abuse. A social movement should be waged first to combat the menace. Parents’ role is crucial in this respect. If they create awareness among their children in the very early stage, much of the problem can be solved quite easily. Illegal use of drug or drug addiction problems are not very recent phenomenon in the country. It should be kept in mind that the problem cannot be checked fully. But the number of people taking drugs can be reduced through proper strategies and tactics. We can only hope that the government should pursue long-term strategies; short-term strategies like ‘gunfight’ or ‘capturing’ may be proved futile in the long run.