Authorities here have asked as many as 27 colleges and 26 schools to take steps to check use of drugs by their students after a probe found that over 1,000 students, some of them as young as 13 are using 'high-end' drugs like LSD and MDMA, officials said on Wednesday.
Advisories were sent to the educational institutions including prestigious international schools and engineering colleges following sensational finding by the Prohibition and Excise Department.
Announcing the arrest of eighth accused in the drug racket, Enforcement Director Akun Sabharwal told reporters that letters were sent to the heads of educational institutions, having sizeable number of users.
Without naming the students addicted to drugs, the letters have asked the principals to keep an eye on erratic/deviant behaviour of the students. They were also advised to monitor the areas around the school as some shops were being used for selling the drugs.
The managements of schools and colleges were also asked to counsel the students on the dangers of using drugs. As children of the rich and influential were found to be spending big money on buying the narcotic substance, parents and teachers have been advised to keep a watch on use of money and credit/debit cards by their wards.
The investigators found that students of even classes eight and nine were using drugs. As they were also found to be communicating with drug peddlers and suppliers, parents and teachers were asked to monitor their use of mobile phones.
The investigations also revealed that students including girls are in touch with peddlers through social media apps. In one of the messages sent through WhatsApp, a girl informed the supplier how the drug gave her a high and sought more of it.
Sabharwal announced the arrest of Brendon Ben, who was taken into custody on Wednesday morning. A graduate in hotel management, he was working with an event management company.
All accused arrested so far were peddlers and all of them were well educated. People from film industry, hospitality, and MNCs were allegedly involved in the racket.
Calvin Mascarenhas, who was the first to be arrested, is a musician and former bank employee. Another accused Abdul Quddus, who did his MBA in Australia, was working with an MNC. A start-up owner V. Nikhil Shetty and yoga instructor V. Ravi Kiran were among the other accused.
"The department has not arrested anyone who is a user or consumer, although a legal offence under Section 22 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act is made out," said Sabharwal.
He proposes to hold a meeting with principals/correspondents of almost 80 schools of Hyderabad on July 14. A similar meeting is proposed with colleges.
The department has also set up a toll free number(1800 425 2523) so that citizens/parents/ teachers/students who have any information regarding drugs can pass it on. It promised to keep their identities confidential.
Sabharwal said the department was also making efforts to extend the fight against drugs from enforcement to education or awareness. "Awareness videos are being produced which would be circulated in media, on WhatsApp/Telegram groups and sent to schools & colleges for use," he added.