Reform druggies to curb crime
Cops use informer network to indentify addicts and then send them to a 10-day deaddiction camp
In a one-of-a-kind intervention, the Mumbai police are now identifying drug addicts through a network of local informers instead of arresting miscreants for indulging in substance abuse. They are hoping they will gradually get weaned off their addiction.
The first batch of 20 from the eastern suburban slums of Shivajinagar and Rafiquenagar was sent to NGO Kripa Foundation’s Matunga Labour Camp centre at Dharavi for a 10-day deaddiction camp. On July 14, 16 of them returned after completing the programme.
“I started smoking cannabis when I was nine,” confessedMohammad Saddam, 16. He has not felt the urge to touch drugs since returning from the camp.
“We crushed cannabis leaves with tobacco and got sleeping pills from the black market. Drinking an entire bottle of cough syrup was easy. We would then commit petty thefts and end up assaulting each other with swords,” said Mominnudin, 18, who willingly attended the camp.
The escalating crime rate in slums led the local police to blame increased drug abuse as a major reason influencing youth to become criminals. In 2011, 1,336 offences were registered in Zone VI (eastern suburbs of Nehrunagar, Shivajinagar, Cheetah camp, Trombay amongst others). Till July this year, 1,436 offences have been registered w ith a 7% increase in the crime rate as compared to last year.
“Routine interrogations revealed that most of the crimes by the youth were committed under the influence of drugs. Our men identify slum households where drug abuse is prevalent and then summon the parents of such youth to convince them to put their children in rehabilitation,” said Quaiser Khalid, additional commissioner of police (eastern region).
A walk down the bylanes of the densely populated Govandi slum in the late evening would reveal that sword fights are not a thing of the past. Under the influence of cheaply available drugs, young teenagers roam the streets in a trance-like state with swords and knives.
Local activists have identified over 200 such households were drug abuse amongst teenage children is rampant. “The efforts of getting the first batch for deaddiction are but a drop in the ocean. Drug addicts have troubled pasts and thus, there is a chance of relapse. The key is to be persistent in deaddiction drive efforts,” said Father Joe Perriera, member of an expert panel group in the state ministry of social justice and welfare.