Surge in drug-related incidents sparks crisis in Madhesh Province

Drug abuse and addiction -- Drug-related incident
The situation, supported by statistics, surrounding drug-related incidents paints a grim picture.

On December 13, Rakhi Yadav, 6, of Sabaula Municipality in Dhanusha reached Satokhar Pond to witness her neighbour’s matkor (a traditional performance preceding marriage). After the conclusion of the matkor, everyone returned home, except Yadav.

Worried, her family looked around everywhere. They even went to the police who then used sniffer dogs to look for her. She was nowhere to be found.

“Our search efforts continued throughout the day, and as dusk approached without any sign of her, we began suspecting that she might be in the pit,” said Dhanusha police spokesperson DSP Ranjan Awa.

As suspected, Yadav’s lifeless body was discovered in a waterlogged pit near Satokhar Pond.

Police investigations say she was murdered. Police then arrested two boys who have confessed to abducting and murdering her. The dig

According to reports, upon examining the girl’s body, it appeared that she had been brutally murdered. A day later, the police arrested two teenagers suspected of being involved in the incident, both of whom confessed to the charges.

Police stated that both teenagers were drug users. It is reported that they had consumed drugs along with alcohol during the matkor event. It was later revealed that they had abducted Yadav while she was playing in a chariot at the event. The two then raped her and killed her before discarding her body in a ditch.

Drug-related incidents are on the rise in Madhesh Province. On December 16, another child fell victim to a drug addict, as 11-year-old Aditya Thakur, residing in his maternal uncle’s home in Hanumannagar in Janakpur, did not return.

Despite efforts by family members to locate him, they could not find him and reported him missing to the police. Thakur was later discovered severely injured.

“We took him to the provincial hospital for treatment, but unfortunately, he passed away during treatment,” said DSP Awa.

Following the incident, the police arrested two suspects, 26-year-old Sanjay Sah and 24-year-old Badal.

According to Awa, the two suspects approached Aditya when he was using a mobile phone near the Madhesh Provincial Assembly building. They, under the influence of drugs, demanded his mobile phone, and upon refusal, assaulted him with bamboo sticks.

“Both then fled the scene after inflicting severe injuries on the victim,” Awa said.

Scary numbers

Drug Abuse
Photo by Jonathan Gonzalez on Unsplash

The situation, supported by statistics, surrounding drug-related incidents paints a grim picture. According to the police, an average of three individuals are arrested with drugs in Madhesh Province daily.

According to data provided by the Madhesh Province Police Office in Janakpurdham, 96 people were reported killed in the fiscal year 2021/22, and the number increased to 106 in 2022/23 due to drug use.

According to the Dhanusha District Police Office, seven people have been killed in the district in the first five months of the current financial year, with drug users involved in three cases. A total of 57 people have been killed in eight districts of Madhesh province.

Data from the provincial police office shows that 999 individuals were arrested with drugs during the fiscal year 2020/21. This figure increased to 1,285 in the fiscal year 2021/22. Furthermore, during the fiscal year 2022/23, the number escalated to 1,304 individuals being arrested with drugs, as reported by the police.

Shyam Mahato, the spokesperson of the Madhesh Province Police Office, disclosed that 437 people have been arrested with drugs in the first five months of the current fiscal year. Most of those detained are under 30 years old. Various substances such as marijuana, hashish, brown sugar, opium, heroin, and other illicit drugs have been seized from them, said Mahato.

In the past five months of this fiscal year, the police have confiscated 2,683 kilograms of marijuana, 47 kilograms of hashish, 86 grams and 3,277 milligrams of heroin, along with 17,239 illegal narcotic tablets, 1,531 bottled substances, and 14,405 injections across all eight districts of the province.

SP Pravin Dhital of Sarlahi said that the rise in drug-related incidents is thanks to people exploiting the open border with India.

“Is very hard to find these drugs. Some conceal it in motorbikes and cars and some in food and even their own body,” said Dhital.

Under the influence

File Photo

SP Shyam Mahato says that drugs are involved in many other crimes. However, he clarified that cases involving heinous crimes such as murder and rape outweigh those related to drugs.

The police highlight that drug users are more frequently linked to crimes like theft, robbery, violence against women, and domestic abuse, rather than murder.

“Over 80 per cent of the recent surge in thefts involves individuals using drugs. But, due to the difficulty in identifying drug-related cases, they are often omitted from the statistics,” said SP Mahato.

SP Dhittal noted that the majority of drug users fall within the age range of 25 to 30 years and live an isolated life once they get addicted.

“They engage in activities like theft, physical altercations, and gang conflicts,” says Dhital.

The body of 22-year-old Izrul Muhammad Sheikh, a resident of Barahathawa Municipality-5, was discovered on December 17 in the no man’s land area of Malangwa Municipality-8 in Sarlahi. Despite no visible wounds, the body exhibited symptoms of phlegm discharge from the mouth. Based on preliminary investigations, the police have attributed his death to drug overdose.

Authorities said that he was a drug user and presumably succumbed to drug-related complications while returning from a trip across the border.

According to Ajitam Pandey, the chief executive officer of Punarjeevan Nepal, an organisation dedicated to treating and rehabilitating individuals ensnared in narcotic drug addiction, a majority of them succumb to addiction due to the influence of their peers. 

Additionally, some are drawn into drug–addiction and abuse–as a result of their familial environment. Pandey says only 2-3 per cent of these individuals are admitted to rehabilitation centres promptly upon falling into the addiction cycle, whereas a staggering 97 per cent are not taken to rehabilitation until they commit crimes. It typically requires a minimum of six months to a year for trapped in the cycle of addiction to return to a stable state.

Rehabilitation challenges

Due to the high monthly fees of the rehabilitation centre, many believe it acceptable to leave once they witness slight changes in themselves, only to relapse into addiction once more.

Pandey criticised the lack of involvement by the local government in tackling this problem. He urged people not to heed any leader or representative downplaying the need for control.

“The society is sinking into the world of drug abuse,” he said, emphasising that it will require the collective efforts of all stakeholders, including the government, family, and society, to address this issue seriously. 

The Madhesh Province Police Office has initiated an ‘Anti-Drug Campaign’ intending to identify 4,000 drug addicts by the end of the current fiscal year. Their plan involves providing psychological counselling and rehabilitation of these individuals into society with the support of their families.

Mahato also refutes the notion that only the police can combat drug abuse, but a result of collaboration among the government, society, and families. “As part of our responsibility, we are conducting anti-drug awareness sessions in schools.”

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Mahato is an Onlinekhabar correspondent based in Janakpur.

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