AIDS and drug abuse cry for space in manifestos of political parties

Y.S.Rana | April 09, 2019 05:46 PM

HAMIRPUR: Unaware of the enormity of the disease, no political party in Himachal Pradesh provided any space to AIDS and drug menace in its manifesto either for Lok Sabha or assembly election while these need paramount attention of the political parties compared to development, unemployment, price rise and drinking water. And the fact remains the menace is spreading its pangs across the state.

On May 23, the welcome song for Lok Sabha poll will dies down giving way to some glaring realities.  Himachal Pradesh, a small hilly state with highest literacy rate is in the grip of AIDS and drug menace. District Kangra of the state tops in the number of AIDS cases. According to official data, State has recorded 3531 AIDS cases besides 9141 HIV positive cases in 2017.

The number of HIV positive cases has been increasing despite campaigns carried out to aware the people. Since 1993, nobody in the state knew about AIDS, today, it is hard to shut it out of the day-to-day life even in rural areas. The first AIDS case was reported in district Hamirpur in 1993 and whole family succumbed to the disease.

On the other, drug abuse in the state is a best kept secret in the corridor of the state government yet is talked about in virtually every household. The state is turning in to “Udta Himachal” as more and youngsters catching up with drug fancy. Even school children are falling prey to Chitta or heroin, opium or illicit drugs.

According to official data, in 2018, the police had seized 229 kgs of charas, four kgs opium and 263 kgs of Poppy Husk. Even it has made in roads among girls.  So far conviction rate is concerned, while in 2015 it was 32 per cent has now come down to less than 25 per cent. Majority of cases were registered in districts Kullu, Chamba and Mandi which accounted for 48 per cent. “The number of persons arrested during the past 11 years is a small friction of brig crime,” admitted a police officer.

During the period over 1360 persons were arrested in Kullu, followed by Mandi (1346), Shimla has this number 663, Hamirpur 288, Kangra 580, Una 243 and Chamba 506. It is also reported that in Bada Bhangal in district Kangra has nearly 20 per cent of private land under opium and cannabis cultivation. District Mandi tops the list of seizure of opium with 56,631 kgs.

The state has been observing World AIDS Day and anti drug day every year, yet the message is far from reaching the grass root level. If one looks at the data available and its increasing trend, more efforts are still required to check the spreading the menace. Though a number of NGOs on the job drudging hard to efface the blot from the face of the state yet the callous attitude of the politicians pose problems. It is not just about information and awareness. It is all about strict implementation of laws along with political parties should spare some space in their manifestos desist from playing fast and loose game with the situation.

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