FPJ SPECIAL | Mumbai: Tackling drug menace with local level awareness program

Cops meet locals to have informal talks, build rapport & increase cooperation

Aishwarya IyerUpdated: Sunday, November 27, 2022, 10:24 PM IST
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Mumbai: With cases related to the possession and consumption of drugs on the rise, the Shivaji Nagar police of Govandi has started an 'NDPS Awareness Program' in order to tackle the drug menace in the area. In the NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, of 1985) awareness program, the officers from the police station will visit dedicated spots and meet citizens twice every week to have informal discussions about the ill effects of drug consumption.

“There is serious trouble with drug suppliers and consumers in this area. We have identified 15 such spots in our jurisdiction where our officers take turns for weekly visits. The aim is to gather people around and talk to them like we talk to our friends. The officers explain to them about the NDPS Act, illegal drugs and the consequences of consumption in physical and mental senses, as well as from the law-and-order perspective,” senior police inspector Arjun Rajane of Shivaji Nagar police said.

The pre-dedicated spots include junior colleges, schools, bus stops, depots, and auto-rickshaw stands, where there is usually an ample crowd available. According to Mr Rajane, the officers are also assigned to give out emergency contact numbers of the police station, control room, Twitter account ID, and even the personal number of the police station administrator. “This way we are building confidence among people that they can approach us at any time of the day. Since people now use social media more, we suggest they tweet if they find any problem or suspicion, or want to report anything, as then it gets directed to our team and we can reach out to them in return,” said Mr Rajane.

Shivaji Nagar police officials said drugs like codeine, marijuana and mephedrone are commonly sold and consumed in the area that includes Rafikh Nagar, Baiganwadi, the Dumping Road area, etc. “People here mostly opt for a cheaper range of drugs. The most commonly used is codeine, otherwise known as cough syrup. Codeine is prominently used in healthcare and is usually misused by drug addicts. It is also cheaply available,” said another official.

According to the police, people residing in Shivaji Nagar, Mankhurd and Deonar areas are mostly wage workers who don't get paid enough and are always looking to make a quick buck. “Drug peddling is easy money since there is a good demand. We have had some drug peddlers who want to remain inside jail as they said at least they will be provided food twice a day, which they struggle to get outside. Hence, to tackle the root problem it is essential to educate people which will help them secure decent-paying jobs and keep them away from indulging in the drug business,” explained the official.

As to achieve the 'educate people' goal, during the awareness sessions in schools and colleges, officials encourage students to not drop out and finish their education, which can help them find a well-paying job in the future.

Talking about the drug consumers, Mr Rajane said that in case they get caught, they end up getting bailed out and in no time, they are back at it. “We need more de-addiction centers along with proper counselling in order to tackle the drug problem among consumers. Just by arresting them, we are simply increasing the conviction rate. But if we need a wholesome solution, more NGOs or organisations should pitch in to deal with the root cause,” he said.

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