Kashmiri Girl’s Drug Addiction: A Silent Story

Ground Report | New Delhi: Kashmiri girl’s drug addiction; Born into a good and humble family in the city of Srinagar Aisha (name changed) just like any other ordinary girl was excited to attend the first day at her college. On the first day of her college, she met another girl and immediately became friends with her.

Kashmiri girl’s drug addiction

Aisha, like any other ordinary college-going girl, was excited and full of hopes and dreams. She was happy to meet new people and to interact with them. But for her, the most exciting part was to have friends. Her friend introduced her to a boy Rahil (name changed) who Aisha became friends with instantly. Every day Rahil used to drop off Aisha and her friends to their respective destinations. Aisha was very happy with the development of their friendship. Until one day when she was having a severe headache and Rahil came to pick her up. 

Rahil came to pick Aisha up and Aisha asked Rahil, “to stop by a pharmacy as she wanted to get some medicine for her headache.” However, Rahil told her that he had a “medicine” to cure her headache. He gave her a “half tablet” and Aisha started to feel sleepy. Upon reaching her home Aisha felt dizzy and went straight away to her room and slept. She however did not remember what Rahil gave to her. She was 19 years old back then. This continued for another two to three days, when she asked Rahil, “Jo tumnae mujhae dawayi di thi mujhae phirsae do (give me the tablet that you had given me earlier),” but Rahil with his ulterior motives replied, “Mae duga agar tum mera kaam maanogi (I will give you if you obey me).” And this is how Aisha’s life turned upside down and she was introduced to the world of drug abuse.

Jammu and Kashmir have become drug trafficking hotspots. According to a recent survey, 600,000 persons in Jammu Kashmir are involved in drug-related activities, accounting for about 4.6 per cent of the population of the Union Territory. 90% of these drug users are between the ages of 17 and 33. 

“I was exploited financially, emotionally, and physically.”

Aisha, who is now 21 years old, recalls how she became a prey to the abuse. Talking to Ground Report she said, ” When I met my friends in college, maenae unko apnae bhaarae mae sab bola. I told them that I recently had a break up after how my boyfriend cheated on me,” she went on saying, ” Because I thought they were my friends I trusted them. I knew they were doing drugs and other activities. But I didn’t know I would fall prey to it.” However, after consuming the tablet, Rahil gave her, she started consuming it more. “In the beginning, I did not know what it was, but I used it in a lesser amount but until I learnt what it really was I had already become an addict,” said Aisha. 

 She went on saying, “I used to ask for a lot of money from my parents. At times I used my mother’s ATM card and my sister’s card to withdraw money so that I could buy it.”  Calling everything that happened “extreme” , she said at times her mother also grew suspicious about Aisha’s activities. Aisha says during that whole period she became short-tempered, lost her calm easily and used to get annoyed at everything. ” I used to sit in isolation, I enjoyed it. Because sometimes I did drugs even at my home,” Aisha added. 

However, Aisha also told Ground Report about the abuse she faced during her addiction, “Uss douraan merae saath bohat galat hua. I was abused, even beaten at times.”  Aisha also told about her physical exploitation and how she was trapped in that whole situation. Calling everything that happened to her “immoral”, Aisha said she became so addicted that she lost her grip. ” That boy and his friends also abused me sexually,” Aisha said with a voice full of sadness.

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In 2019, when article 370 was revoked, she lost every contact with Rahil. And since she could not procure any more drugs she slowly started giving up on the habit. “My current boyfriend also helped me to come out of it he is my saviour. But the biggest motivation came from within because I was drifting away from everything that once was dear to me,” said Aisha when asked how she came out of drug addiction. Calling that whole time a “nightmare”, Aisha said she regrets everything about her past. She however is both grateful and hopeful for a good future. 

During her drug addiction, Aisha used pills that are sold illegally and also did drugs.  She also said that she had several health complications because of drugs. Her journey of abuse lasted for two years. But now she is free from everything, living her best life. 

However this is not one Aisha alone, there are many more such women who are still trying to get out from this dark world of drugs. And according to a UN Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) survey, almost 70 thousand people in Kashmir are drug users, with women accounting for roughly 31% of the total.

Social stigma and peer pressure

Dr Manzoor ul Hasaan of the HNSS Drug Rehabilitation Center told Ground Report that stress, the pressure of studies, family disagreements, failure in life, examination stress, and love affairs are the main causes of drug addiction among girls. “Peer pressure can also be a reason,” he said. He further stated that societal stigma prevents women from seeking rehabilitation or treatment in the state due to a lack of facilities.

According to officials, the health department does not keep track of the state of drug addiction in Kashmir. In a conversation with Ground Report, a medical student in Srinagar noted that while adolescents on drugs may physically live with their families, they are emotionally alone. She went on to say that they are unconcerned about what happens to their loved ones and that their insensitivity extends to society.

A survey done by the United Nations International Drug Control Program in 2008 revealed that there were over 70,000 drug users in Kashmir, bringing the subject of drug abuse in Kashmir to light for the first time a decade ago. According to the survey, 65 to 70 per cent of Kashmir’s student population was addicted to drugs, with 38 per cent of female students being involved.

This story of Aisha reflects how this is not only a matter of health, but it also leaves people scarred for life. Drug abuse is not normal, no abuse is. It also reflects how drug abuse leaves an individual, a society in utter jeopardy and in a place like Kashmir it is really hard to get proper rehabilitation. What needs to be done is educate the young boys and girls from an early age and develop in them the consciousness to tell the wrong from right. A girl has a message for all, ” Religious education might just help, family cohesion will protect us from this vice too. And stop this vice before it becomes a disease.” 

PART 1, PART 2

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