Meghalaya joined hands with the rest of the world to observe International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking today in the state capital, Shillong. The observation was held at U Soso Tham Auditorium, wherein the Deputy Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Prestone Tynsong was the Chief Guest and Meghalaya Minister, i/c Home (Police), Lahkmen Rymbui was the Guest of Honour. The observation was organized by the Social Welfare Department, Meghalaya and Meghalaya Police in partnership with NGOs and Foundations and other related stakeholders. The theme for this year’s observation is Addressing Drug Challenges in Health and Humanitarian Crises underlining the importance of a holistic approach in curbing the menace of drugs in the society.
According to the Director General of Police, Meghalaya, Dr. L R Bishnoi, drug addicts in India accounts to about 7.3 crores where 1.2 crores are children between the age group of 11-18 years. Of these, 55 lakhs are women. In Meghalaya, there are approximately 2.5 lakhs drug users including injectable drugs and psychotropic substances users. Looking at the present drug trafficking scenario in the state, the DGP said that due to the close proximity to the golden triangle, Meghalaya has become a major transit point for drug trafficking and this has put the authorities on a very high alert to tackle the menace. The DGP also gave a detailed presentation on the prominent drug trafficking routes in the state and the modus operandi commonly used for trafficking of drugs. The DGP informed that the department has come out with a strategic plan by strengthening of infrastructure and having coordination among all stakeholders, besides frequent operations by law enforcers and organizing multiple awareness programme in schools, colleges, villages and towns and other activities. He also informed that in the past 15 days, Meghalaya Police has conducted a record 142 drug awareness programmes in schools, colleges and other public places across the state reaching out to over 15,061 young people.
In his address as the Chief Guest, the Deputy Chief Minister said that drug abuse or drug addiction is a psychiatric, social and psychological problem that not only affect the youth but the society as a whole. Drugs ruin the individuals and the society manifold- socially, physically, culturally, emotionally and economically, he said. Expressing concern on the increasing number of drug users among the children and youth in the state, Tynsong said that children can easily succumb to the pressures of their peers and friends to turn to these intoxicants for comfort. On this day, he called upon various organisations to eradicate this menace and emphasize on addressing the challenges of illegal drugs so that the youth of the state are protected.
Lahkmen Rymbui, Home (Police) Minister, stressed on the need to hold drug awareness programmes in schools and colleges so that children and youth can be aware of the harmful effects of substance abuse. Only when youth have the strength to say no to drugs, the purpose of this observation is achieved, he said.
The Meghalaya Chief Secretary, Rebecca V Suchiang, while highlighting the perils of drug abuse, stressed on the importance to educate young children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol abuse and the need to provide them the emotional support so that they do not develop the need to turn to substance use for comfort. She also appealed to parents, teachers and all sections of society to prioritize support, education and protection of youth against substance abuse and to work together to safeguard their physical and mental health.
Dr. Pakha Tesia, MBBS, MD (Psychiatry) Mind and Wellness Clinic spoke on drug challenges from the health perspective and how to address it while Bryan Wallang, Principal Kiddies Corner HS School, Shillong spoke on Humanitarian Crises in current drug menace.
Other programmes of the day included a skit on drug abuse by Kripa Foundation De-addiction Centre for Juveniles, Mawkasiang and sharing of testimonies by patients of KJPA New Hope De-addiction Centre for Males, Mawdiangdiang and Kripa Foundation De-addiction Centre for Juveniles, Mawkasiang. Audience was also enthralled by songs presented by Neil Umwi & Desmond Rimiki Sun, Meghalaya Police Cultural Troupes and Khaki Vibes.
Sampath Kumar, Principal Secretary, Social Welfare Department delivered the welcome and introductory speech while Shri. Pravin Bakshi, Commissioner & Secretary, Social Welfare Department offered the vote of thanks.
Another highlight of the day was the felicitation of police officers by the Chief Guest.