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NEWS

How drugs claimed 1,529 lives in 35 yrs in this remote NE state

Despite massive efforts undertaken by govt, civil society organisations, Mizoram continues to witness rampant substance abuse among youngsters

Henry L Khojol

Aizawl: Despite massive efforts undertaken by the state government and civil society organisations, Mizoram continues to witness rampant drug abuse among youngsters.

According to records available with the state excise and narcotics department, ever since the first drug-related death was reported in Mizoram in 1984, altogether 1,529 people, including 173 women, have become victims of the menace so far.

Fortunately, the toll rate dropped by 13.85% last year compared to the preceding year. According to records, at least 56 people, including 10 women, died due to drug abuse in 2018 as against 65 in 2017.

As on 30 January, drug abuse has already claimed at least five lives, including a woman, due to substance abuse, the records showed.

Tragic endings

Of the 1,529 drug-related deaths reported in the past 35 years, 190 people died due to heroin overdose while the rest fell prey to pharmaceutical drugs such Spasmo-proxyvon and Parvon spas, the records said. Though Spasmo-proxyvon and Parvon spas were the main killer drugs till 2014, heroin has taken their place from 2015 onwards.

Of the 212 people who died between 2015 and January this year, 92 people succumbed to heroin.

Mizoram recorded maximum number of drug-related deaths in 2004 with 143 people succumbing to addiction.

The department records also showed that at least 2,327 people, including 29 foreigners, were arrested over drug-related cases during last year. Up to 1,482 people were arrested under Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition & Control) Act, 2014, while 662 people were booked under Narcotics Drugs & Psychotropics Substance (ND&PS) Act, 1985. Up to 154 were arrested under Mizoram Excise Act, 1973 during last year, the records revealed.

As per existing laws in Sikkim, a person found guilty of consuming drugs can be jailed for anywhere between six months and five years and fined up to Rs 1 lakh
As per existing laws in Sikkim, a person found guilty of consuming drugs can be jailed for anywhere between six months and five years and fined up to Rs 1 lakh
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Huge haul

An official of the excise & narcotics department said that around 8.723 kg of heroin, 187 kg of cannabis, 50,504 Alprazolam tablets and more than 11 lakh tablets of Pseudoephedrine were seized during raids in 2018.

Records of Supply Reduction Service (SRS), an anti-drug squad constituted by Young Mizo Association (YMA), said that around 4.242 kg of heroin, 12 kg of cannabis and more than 16,000 tablets of Alprozelum were seized during last year by volunteers.

As per SRS convener Peter Chakchhuak, over Rs 4.90 crore worth of drugs were seized by volunteers during last year. At least 1,323 people were apprehended over drug-related cases during the same year.

Of the 1,323 people, 23 were handed over to excise officials, seven to police, 154 sent to rehabilitation centres and the rest were given counseling, he said.

SRS volunteers also seized about 900 grams of heroin and apprehended 350 people over drug- related matter this year till January 27, he added.

Growing menace

Chhakchhuak said Mizoram continues to face an increase in supply and smuggling of drugs despite the opening of wine shops under the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition & Control) Act since March 2015. He said that most drugs were smuggled from Myanmar and sometime from Bangladesh.

Heroin was the most commonly smuggled drug, he said, adding that a majority of drug users were youths.

Meanwhile, the state government is undertaking massive efforts to curb the menace of drug abuse in the state. The ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) had a pre-poll promise that it would give top priority to combat the growing drug menace in the state if it comes to power.

Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga had said that the state government would set up centres for addicts in different parts of the state and have already identified plot of lands for the purposes.