NARCOTICS IN CLASSROOMS
If slowly our children in the
Islands are turning Sadhus and Sufis by hooking on to bhang
to achieve spiritual bliss and transcend higher planes of meditation, there is
much to worry.
By Zubair Ahmed
Classrooms in many schools have turned into drug dens with students experimenting and exploring easily accessible narcotic formulations. Instead of jaljeera and gems, their curiosity has now found cure in a new packet more potent than Gutkha and Pan Masala.
When four Class IX students of a prominent school in Port Blair were rusticated for attending classes in intoxicated state, it revealed some shocking realities. “The students were found in a trance laughing non-stop for hours, which raised suspicion. It was found that they had consumed something called Lahri," Principal of the school told LOA. One Class XI student was also found in possession of Ganja.
The Light of Andamans on a week-long drug trail found that school students are swiftly getting addicted to a beautifully packed drug sold in the market by the brand name Lahri - Manukka Pachak Vati, which contains marijuana in the concoction, manufactured by an oblivious Ayurvedic firm Shukla Ayurvedic Pharmacy based in
Initially LOA team tried to find the source of ganja. Most of the peddlers are now underground after a major crackdown by the police. It was a bit tough to get a pudiya. Nevertheless, it’s available for all those desperate souls looking for it. The team could however manage to get three sachets from three different peddlers at a premium at designated places in the city.
Curiosity about Lahri took the team to various provision stores in the city, which stocked the so-called 'Ayurvedic Medicine', and without any inhibition the team could procure it from almost three shops. Although the sachet states it to be an "Ayurvedic Medicine" and a Schedule E(1) drug, only to be taken under medical supervision, its available for Rs 5 per sachet in roadside shops. Actually priced at Re 1, this is the only narcotic substance which is easily accessible to everyone including children for meager Rs 5/- cheaper than a Paan.
It may be shocking for many, but its common knowledge among the connoisseurs who call it bhang. "We don't use this substance as it’s the poor man's nasha," said an old addict, who claims to be clean now. "We used to have it when we were broke," he added.
Bhang may be a taboo for many, but in a disguise Lahri is sold as a digestive aid – Pachak Vati. When we approached an Ayurvedic physician, he could not even recognise it and was shocked to know that it’s available in the open market.
The composition on the Lahri packet states 12 different components like manuka (rajence) 20%, Shakkar Bura 10%, Shudh Vijaya 12%, Sengha Namak 5%, Jeera 10%, Badi Ilaichi 1%, Khajur 20%, Gud 5%, Nimbu Satt 2%, Kala Namak 5%, Kali Mirch 2%, Ajwain 8%, but does not mention marijuana or cannabis anywhere.
Odourless, the substance can be consumed anywhere unassumingly. It has become a hit among school students in the city and sold like hotcake in many shops. When our contact reached a shop and demanded 'munakka' as it’s called by users, the shopkeeper corrected him and told him to ask for "Lahri." He took out the sachet from his cashbox. Another shop at Junglighat had stocked the sachets in a gunny bag.
Very recently cases of students attending classes in inebriated state were also reported from two more schools in the city. “Without secure compounds, how can one monitor movement of outsiders inside school campuses?” asks a Physical Education Teacher.
“We see vehicles parked near the school campus in suspicious situations, and we have already informed the police,” said a Principal. “There are gangs who supply the contrabands to the students,” he added.
A cramped classroom with more than 60 students in a class is the bane of our
Islands, where every
time we hear the rhetoric that there is no shortage of funds. “How can we keep
watch on all students and their actions, when we have to complete syllabus as
well as maintain proper records of each student as ordained by CCE pattern?’
asks a teacher.
The Directorate of Health Services typically remains ignorant of such drugs being peddled through general stores. Such a narcotic preparation, more potent than gutkha or pan masala is beyond the radar of Health Services as the
Island lags behind
by 60 years in the proper implementation of Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940. Only a
few cosmetic changes here and there are at place for State Drugs Controller,
Licensing Authority and Drug Inspectors.
The indifferent attitude of the parents and civil society in identifying and monitoring such practices is another curse. The gravity of the issue is discussed and forgotten without any apt action. “Serious engagement by the Parents Teachers Associations (PTA) can play a major role in keeping a watch and curbing such practices in educational institutions,” said a teacher who feels that most of the Associations are for namesake.
In 2009, in Pune same product with a different brand name "Tarang" was confiscated by police. The preparation was sent to a forensic laboratory for chemical analysis and it confirmed the presence of the contraband. After an expert’s conclusion, cases were filed under the relevant sections of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. Two cases were registered in 2010, but the figure rose to 10 in 2011.