Although the government has taken various initiatives to control narcotics, people feel that drug smuggling has increased in their surrounding areas. People also think that common people get involved in drug trade without getting work. And a large part of drug dealers are political party workers and influential people.
This opinion of the people has emerged in a survey-based research report of the Narcotics Control Directorate. A total of 5,470 people were interviewed in this survey titled 'Drug trafficking picture of 32 districts bordering Bangladesh and determination of integrated strategy to combat smuggling'.
Among the interviewees are representatives of local government departments, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) members, members of law enforcement agencies, common people of border districts, drivers of vehicles travelling across the borders, drug addicts, local media personalities and employees of various local government departments.
The largest number of respondents, 52 per cent, is representatives of local government departments. 19 per cent are members of BGB and law enforcement agencies.
According to the survey, 30 per cent of respondents said drug smuggling has increased in their area. Five per cent said drug smuggling is the same as before. Five per cent said they are not sure about the matter. The rest did not answer the question.
The survey also revealed people's perception about who is involved in the drug trade. Some 41 per cent of the participants said that those involved in drug trafficking are local jobless poor people while 30 per cent thinks that those involved are political activists. They introduce themselves by that identity. Some 26 per cent participants think that some of the students are involved in drug trafficking.
Narcotics Control Directorate deputy director Manjurul Islam told Prothom Alo that legal action is being taken to identify the godfathers of those who are bringing drugs to the country through the border and those involved in financing. He said that initiatives are being taken to implement the findings and recommendations made in the research.
The Narcotics Control Directorate conducts one study every fiscal year. Different types of situations emerge in these studies. There are also various recommendations. But there seems to be no success in drug control. According to a new survey, people think that drug use has increased.
In the survey of the Narcotics Control Directorate, it is mentioned that drugs are coming through 389 places (points) in 30 districts bordering the country. Dinajpur has the highest number of sites identified, with 43. Drugs are coming through 38 places in Feni. There are more than 20 places in Thakurgaon, Nilphamari, Jessore and Khagrachari districts.
Rajshahi, Chapainawabganj, Naogaon, Joypurhat, Panchagarh, Dinajpur, Kurigram, Khulna, Jessore, Satkhira, Chuadanga, Meherpur, Jhenaidah, Kushtia, Cox's Bazar, Bandarban, Comilla, Rangamati, Jamalpur, Netrakona, Sylhet, Moulvibazar, Habiganj and Sunamganj districts are used for drug-smuggling.
Drug shipments are often caught in the border districts. Sometimes politically influential people are also caught with drugs. For example, upazila Awami League organising secretary Al Mansoor was arrested with 1500 yaba pills in Baliadangi of Thakurgaon last May. A fertiliser and pesticide dealer by profession, Mansoor also dealt in drugs.
Many people think that it is difficult to do drug trade locally without giving money to influential people of political parties and law enforcers.
Massive illegal income
An idea of how much illegal income is yielded in the drug trade also comes up in the survey. It can be seen that people involved in drug trafficking make huge illegal money by buying drugs at very low prices and selling them at high prices.
Drugs are available everywhere in the country. There is no effective action to implement the government's zero-tolerance policy on drug control. The government's strategy for drug control is also not being implementedUmar Farooq, professor, criminology and police science department, Maulana Bhasani University of Science and Technology
For example, the price of a yaba pill sold in the Myanmar border area of Cox's Bazar is almost three times higher in the local upazila headquarters. Its price is five times higher in the district town. However, prices in other districts including the capital are higher, sometimes 10 times that of the border.
Cannabis, yaba, codeine syrup (phensedyl), ice, heroin etc. are more prevalent among drugs in the country.
Punishment is must
The survey revealed that 84 per cent of the respondents do not know the details of the country's existing drug control laws. However, 74 per cent think that drug smuggling will be under control if the existing laws of the country are properly implemented.
The research team has made some recommendations to control drug smuggling across the border. These include reducing demand by diverting drug addicts from drugs, enhancing the capacity of law enforcement agencies including the BGB, enhancing coordination among law enforcement agencies, and taking effective actions against illegal transactions.
Respondents in the survey said that 30 per cent of the money spent on drug sales is through mobile banking. The rest is in cash and other means.
Narcotics are not reduced
The government has a zero-tolerance policy for drug control. As part of this, a special anti-narcotics campaign was launched in May 2018 with the slogan 'Let's go to war against the drugs'. In two years, 586 suspected drug dealers were subjected to ‘extrajudicial killing’ in operations by agencies and forces involved in drug control. But drugs are still within reach.
Muhammad Umar Farooq, professor of criminology and police science department of Maulana Bhasani University of Science and Technology, told Prothom Alo that the number of drug addicts in the country is increasing; it has come up in various surveys. Drugs are available everywhere in the country. There is no effective action to implement the government's zero-tolerance policy on drug control. The government's strategy for drug control is also not being implemented. As a result, drugs are continuously coming from India and Myanmar.
Regarding the research of the Narcotics Control Department, Umar Farooq said that the research they do every year is also very difficult. They are doing it because they have to do research.
According to the survey, drug abuse is high among the youth. There are drug addicts of all ages. When someone in the family is addicted to drugs, there is no end to the misery of that family. For example, on 22 August, an elder sister was stabbed to death during a dispute over taking a drug addict brother to a treatment centre in Daniya, Dhaka.