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Persistent drug smuggling remains a security concern in J&K

SRINAGAR, OCT 23: Despite ongoing efforts to combat drug trafficking and smuggling, the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir continues to grapple with the enduring problem of illegal drug activities. This pressing issue is causing significant concern among law enforcement agencies, officials, and the public alike.

Recent reports have highlighted the continued prevalence of drug smuggling operations in various parts, indicating the need for more comprehensive strategies to tackle this menace effectively.

 “Law enforcement agencies and authorities have been actively engaged in addressing the situation, conducting raids, and making arrests. However, the drug trade’s resilience poses a formidable challenge,” one of the top security officials said.

An official said that the persistent nature of this issue is attributed to various factors, including the proximity to international borders, making it susceptible to infiltration by drug traffickers.

 “Local communities, civil society organizations, and government bodies are increasingly collaborating to raise awareness about the perils of drug addiction and to encourage individuals to seek help when needed,” he said, adding that the substance abuse rehabilitation programs and counselling services are being expanded to support those affected by drug addiction.

The official said that addressing the problem of drug smuggling remains a top priority for authorities, who are working diligently to devise and implement comprehensive strategies that can curb this menace and protect the well-being of the community.

Sources within the security agencies said that Narco-terrorism signifies the dangerous collaboration between drug syndicates and “terrorist” groups, which aids and finances “terrorist” activities.

They said that Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed a significant surge in narco-terrorism cases since 2021. The rise in heroin consumption and drug abuse cases in Jammu and Kashmir has heightened concerns among security forces.

 “Drug smuggling and terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir are interlinked, and the anti-national elements have historically employed narco-terrorism as a weapon to disrupt the peace in JK,” a security official said, adding, “There have been multiple instances of drug seizures from militants in Kashmir. Lately, the terror handlers have been increasingly pushing narcotics, especially heroin, into Kashmir directly through the Line of Control.”

The narco-terrorism nexus became evident when the National Investigation Agency (NIA) dismantled a narco-terror module in Handwara. During a routine check, security forces initially seized twenty lakh rupees along with two kilograms of heroin and later recovered a total of ninety-one lakh rupees.

The NIA revealed that the arrested accused were part of a thriving drug nexus under which drug syndicates and overground workers purchase and sell drugs to generate funds for banned terror outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen

One of the top police officials said that ‘Narco-terrorism’ has emerged as a significant challenge in Jammu and Kashmir, but security forces are adequately addressing it.

A police official said that security forces have been successful in choking terrorist financing through various means such as property transactions and hawala rackets, compelling terror groups to resort to the drug trade for funds. The official added that another reason is the crackdowns on the hawala system, used for illicit fund transfers, have disrupted terror funding, pushing groups to resort to narco-terrorism.

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