Srinagar: Sweating profusely, Rashid Ahmed was rushed to the de-addiction ward of Srinagar’s SHMS Hospital by his family around midnight. In his early 20s, Rashid’s recent behaviour was strange. He woke up at nights, stared at the wall, talked to non-existent persons, and cried. He also complained of numbness, insomnia and disorientation.
Nineteen-year-old Javed Ahmed of Shopian was admitted 24 hours earlier. He had gotten agitated for no reason and slapped himself repeatedly. When his family tried to stop him, he attacked them.
Dozens of Kashmiris addicted to heroin have gone through SHMS’s de-addiction ward ever since the lockdown post-scrapping of Article 370 in J&K. With the shutdown of mobile, landlines and internet in the Valley, Pakistan-backed narco-terrorists have been unable to keep up the supply of heroin; this has led to severe withdrawal symptoms among the affected youth, an increasing number of whom get high and then indulge in stone-pelting.
As per records accessed by Deccan Chronicle, close to 200 people between 15 and 30 visited the de-addiction centre with severe withdrawal symptoms since August 5. Many were admitted to the ward and kept under observation, while others were sent away after medication and therapy.
“All of them use heroin and with curfew restrictions they are unable to get their dose from drug peddlers. They end up at the de-addiction centre,’’ a doctor at the ward said.
Police say the lockdown has broken the back of narco-terrorism here. “The nexus is such that heroin is freely available across Srinagar and the Valley and with little intelligence coming about drug peddlers, it is difficult to keep a tab on them. But things changed post August 5,’’ disclosed a senior police official.
Past interrogations of terrorists revealed that the smuggling network is linked to militants. “The narcotics is smuggled from Pakistan and Hizbul Mujahideen is participating in the trade through its conduits. We have seen stone pelters high on heroin,’’ he says.