The use of drugs has increased in Hunza valley over the years, especially among young men of upper Hunza. Observations suggest that a majority of the young men are either unaware about the actual and potential adverse impacts of the use of drugs or they ignore the impacts all together even after being aware of them.
According to sources, the use of drugs in two categories has shot up in recent years: alcohol and hash/charas. Over the last one year, 50 cases involving drugs use were registered at the police station in Gulmit and in eight of them FIRs were launched against those involved. The shocking revelation is that young men were directly involved in more than 95 percent of the cases.
It is pertinent to mention here that after the Attabad landslide disaster, the use of drugs has augmented at an unprecedented level. Sources say that people involved in the sale of drugs have set up their businesses at the Attabad Lake’s spillway and at the boat basin in upper Hunza, where they comfortably sell out drugs, especially hash/hashish. The irony is that the outside drug mafias- coming in the shape of boat operators, hair dressers, cobblers etc. – have successfully recruited local young men to push forth their illegal business and sign up more young clients for them.
The illegal arrival of alcohol from China has further endangered the youth of the region, pushing them towards unhealthy activities. I have personally seen young men openly surrounding trucks coming from China in the hope of managing to purchase alcohol from them, which they call “damafung.” Sources also say that young men have started producing alcohol locally for local consumption. This has further involved the youth in dangerous activities.
Even though smoking cigarette is legal in the country, yet this extremely unhealthy habit has increased at a record level among the new generation. It has been observed that even people below the age of 18-year are involved in smoking cigarette. Besides endangering the health and lives of the drug users, this issue has increased the monetary burden on parents of those involved.
I have even witnessed young local men, who would brag about their sporting activities and sportsman spirit in normal circumstances, smoking cigarette and chasing Chinese trolleys to get few drops of what they proudly call Damafung. I fear if the habit of smoking progresses at its current pace, our generation would soon be on the threshold of moral destruction and heath damages, such as lungs cancer, bladder cancer and dozens of others.
The rise in use of drugs in Hunza necessitates urgent action. The need to run an anti-drug awareness campaign alongside healthy activities to engage the youth has become inevitable. NGOs, local support organizations and youth organization must take immediate action or our new generation, already headed for self-destruction, would have no U-Turn. We all must understand that when it comes to the use of drugs, there is no undo option beyond a certain point.
The writer is a student of Communication and Media Studies. She is from Gulmit, upper Hunza, and loves to write about current events, issues affecting the society and contemporary sciences.