Addiction in new form; cops unable to file cases
Deccan Chronicle.| Syed Omar Farooq
The city police along with GHMC have started warning medical shops against sale of these sedatives without prescription
Hyderabad: Police are unable to book substance abusers as there is no law in the IPC for the purpose. They cannot therefore prosecute those using whiteners, petrol and turpentine, Iodex sandwiches, dried powder of lizard tails and cough syrups.
Most medical shops do not sell sleeping pills without prescription, as also other substances that have mild quantities of diazepam and alprazolam, which are narcotic drugs.
However, iodex and cough syrups are widely available across the counter. Whiteners are available in stationery shops, petrol is on sale in bottles though the practice is prohibited while lizards are present in every house.
The Hyderabad police have noted that there is an alarming rise in consumption of whiteners as also other sedatives that are cheaper than alcohol, especially during the Covid pandemic and later.
During an investigation by Deccan Chronicle, it was found that these victims, mostly men, the sole bread-winners of their families, had taken to substance abuse as they were unable to deal with financial crises.
After the lockdown, most such victims left their houses as they were unable to support their families. People from other states who came to Hyderabad for jobs are also among the substance abusers. Besides, children are seen using these products at several places including at the Malkajgiri railway station, Public Garden, Nampally, and near the railway tracks.
"For Rs 25, they get the same kick as would with liqour costing Rs 120," a senior police officer said. The substance puts them to sleep for hours.
The city police along with GHMC have started warning medical shops against sale of these sedatives without prescription. Stationery shops were also warned against giving the whiteners to 'suspicious persons'.
Police say these products have a low count of sedatives and do not come under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Act (NDPS).
"I borrowed Rs 2.25 lakh for my sister's marriage and another Rs 15,000 for my mother's funeral. Unable to repay the amounts, I left my house five months ago. I have been begging and taking free food distributed to the poor at Niloufer hospital, temples, mosques and cancer hospital," said Haneef Ali, a resident of Riyasatnagar who inhales whiteners and consumes two bottles of cough syrup a day.
Hameed used to drive an autorickshaw and earn Rs 200 a day. He has a wife and two sons, whom he left back at home when he came here. "There are hundreds of people like me in the city, entangled in various issues. Some of them are from Bihar, Rajasthan, UP and even Nepal. Each one has his own problem," he noted.
"The police along with some organisations are approaching us, requesting us to stop using these sedatives. They also provide us with food and clothes. Some of us got jobs in GHMC as sweepers," Nimbo, a Nepali said.
"I get ration rice for Rs 30, ferment it, then consume it along with my friends. It gives us more kick than alcohol," Nimbo said.
"We have identified most of those who use whitener inhalers and other sedative products that do not come under NDPS. As these men come from very poor family, background we are planning to counsel them and provide them some kind of jobs based on their capabilities. If they are minors, we will be attaching them with NGOs to give free education or send them to rehab centres," said Hyderabad police commissioner C.V. Anand.