Substance abuse in Sikkim shifting from soft drugs to hard drugs

Thursday, Jul 22, 2021 09:30 [IST]

Last Update: Thursday, Jul 22, 2021 03:49 [IST]

Substance abuse in Sikkim shifting from soft drugs to hard drugs

BIJOY GURUNG

GANGTOK,: Substance abuse in Sikkim is gradually shifting from prescription medicines like Spasmo Proxyvon (SP) to hard drugs like brown sugar and heroin. In recent months, Sikkim Police have been nabbing drug peddlers in different parts of the State with brown sugar and even heroin.
Trend is slowing shifting from prescription drugs like SP, N-10 and cough syrups to hard drugs like brown sugar in Sikkim and we are registering cases under NDPS Act, said DIG (Range) Prawin Gurung.
The Sikkim Police spokesperson was speaking at an episode of Express Café on the emergence of hard drugs peddling and consumption in Sikkim.
Express Café is a weekly talk show produced by SIKKIM EXPRESS for its digital platforms. The week’s panellists included human rights activist Prashant Sharma and Bar Association of Sikkim (BAS) general secretary Tashi Rapten Barfungpa.
Hosted by Sarikah Atreya, the talk show broadcasted on Wednesday evening, discussed on the drug menace of Sikkim in general and hard drugs emergence in particular.
“We are witnessing a dangerous shift from soft drugs to hard drugs. Drug trafficking is taking a shape of an organised crime in Sikkim, there are gangs of 7-8 persons. All the drugs come from outside the State,” said the DIG (Range).
Till few years ago, drugs mostly peddled and consumed in Sikkim were SP, N-10 and cough syrups, all listed as contraband drug substances in the Sikkim Anti Drugs Act (SADA) 2006. However, these contraband substances are not covered under law outside Sikkim and easily available for peddlers who sneak them into the State.
“Under SADA, the SP capsules, N-10 tablets and cough syrups, in all forms, are considered substance abuse in Sikkim but outside Sikkim, they are not covered by law. If you go outside, you can openly purchase these items as it is not banned there. Because of these reasons of jurisdiction and distinction of drugs, we cannot act effectively,” said Gurung.
As drug trafficking is lucrative, instances have been there where even police personnel and government employees were found involved in trafficking of contraband substances for hefty commissions.
“The other modus operandi is some police personnel under the garb of uniform are also quite active these days. We have registered a number of cases where police personnel are involved. It is very unfortunate, even government employees are found involved,” said Gurung.
The DIG (Range) pointed out to the provisions in SADA under which government employees found using or peddling contraband substances are to be dismissed from service. He added that these stringent provisions are yet to be implemented in letter and spirit against such government employees.
It was shared that about 1260 cases related with drug peddling have been registered in Sikkim from 2011 to 2020. Among them, police have secured conviction in 422 cases so far.
These are the figures of the cases registered by police but the actual number of drug peddlers and consumers is very high, it was informed.
“The role of police is to enforce laws like SADA and NDPS Act but drug menace cannot alone be dealt by police. It is an issue to be dealt by society also,” said the DIG (Range).
BAS general secretary Tashi Rapten Barfungpa observed that a proper coordination between Sikkim and West Bengal governments should be established to tackle the drug peddling issue more strongly.  The drugs are coming from outside the State and unless there is proper coordination between the two governments, it is going to be very difficult to address this issue, he said.


Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi