On the occasion of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, the state has announced the toll free helpline.

Karnataka now has a toll free number to tackle drug abuse
news Drug Abuse Wednesday, June 27, 2018 - 07:29

On the occasion of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Karnataka state Deputy Chief Minister Dr G Parameshwara has announced a new helpline to report drug activity.

1098 is the new toll-free number to report any such activity. Dr Parameshwara said the public should be unafraid of filing complaints about drug use and that the helpline would be a boon for anyone unable to do so at their local police station.

“We all have to fight against the threat of drugs and smuggling. This is our collective duty to society,” he tweeted. 

The helpline comes only a year after the country was gripped by fears of drug abuse, amid widespread reports of deaths in many metro cities and Punjab. Last year, a government minister even said that the estimate of people affected by drugs was around 7.21 crores. 

Dr Parameshwara highlighted this fear and said that some young people were becoming addicted to drugs and ‘losing their own beautiful lives.’

The Deputy CM, who also holds the Youth and Sports portfolio, specifically said the selling of drugs in schools and colleges should be eliminated.

In a tweet accompanying the announcement, the slogan ‘Save our Youth’ is placed below the new toll-free number.

The tweet specifically urges the public to call the helpline if they ‘observe drug consumption or drug trafficking’ in their locality.

The new toll-free number is in addition to the one introduced by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in 2015.

That helpline was set-up to facilitate rehabilitation of alcoholics and drug users and to help ‘society at large.’

Strict punishments due to drug use

In Karnataka, the drug problem manifests itself in attempts at smuggling drugs through the Kempegowda International Airport, the third-largest airport in India based on passenger numbers.

Smuggling drugs is a cognizable offence under the Narcotics, Drugs, and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act). Offenders can be jailed for up to 20 years under the Act, and repeat offenders may even be sentenced to death. In this regard, India’s law is far stricter than the UN recommends.

India also punishes users of illegal drugs under the NDPS Act, with jail sentences of up to a year and a fine of Rs 20,000. There are, however, exemptions if the accused agrees to go to a de-addiction centre.

Numerous MPs, including Shashi Tharoor and Dharamvira Gandhi, have spoken about trying to relax these laws. However, there has been no movement in this regard at the Union level.


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