MNA Editorial Desk: Drug War: The future of a country is much dependent on the quality – knowledge, education, mindset etc. of its youth and Bangladesh is not any different on that perspective. If the youth of a country is not progressive, that country cannot win any race. Bangladesh in recent times has set itself as an example of development and we are actually in a race to outrun ourselves requiring huge participation of our youth. But regretfully, in spite of having huge potential, our young generation is facing a great enemy – ‘Drugs’.
Widespread availability and usage of different types of drugs has become an attribute of our country in last few years. Recently, the government, according to the guidelines of our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has declared war against drugs. As there are several debates on the method and effectiveness of that drive, it is actually required to know different aspects of drugs use.
We all, including the drug abusers, know that illicit drugs are harmful for our health and mind. Even then, many keep taking drugs. Drug abuse has turned into the greatest problem of Bangladesh as any criminal activity today can be related to drug abuse. According to an unofficial source, currently there are around seven million drug abusers in Bangladesh and this number is alarmingly increasing everyday.
The huge demand of different drugs along with its easy availability has created a great opportunity for trading of these illicit drugs throughout Bangladesh. Hence, it has become a career for many and only a few are actually controlling this whole business. There are several causes which are driving the number of drug abusers in Bangladesh upward. Young people abuse drugs due to frustration and depression resulting from unemployment, repeated failures, family problems and identity conflict etc. Complex social and peer groups influence, curiosity, sub-cultural and psychological environment also induce the youths to take drugs.
It has been identified that major risk factors responsible for drug abuse also include family disorganization, parental neglect, parent-child conflict, marital conflict, indiscipline, isolation, lack of emotional support, rejection of love, over protection, personality maladjustment and easy availability of drugs. From all these causes, we can find out that the basic environment which drives people to take drugs is uncomfortable physical and mental state which induces vulnerability and exposure to wrong solutions like drugs.
In today’s Bangladesh, there are plenty of situations which can take the young generation towards uncomfortable physical and mental state. With 4.2 per cent unemployment rate and around three million unemployed people, mostly youth, frustration is very common among this group of people. Many who belong to this group are frequent drug abusers. As most of them have no money, they often get involved in criminal activities to arrange for their drugs. Unemployment hence is a problem which is directly impacting the count of drug abusers in Bangladesh. Repeating failure in multiple attempts creates frustration, depression and distress among the youth and lack of motivation, love and support adds fuel to that situation.
Dissolving family bonding in a time when the young generation of our country is going through a cultural shift is making the scenario worse. Most importantly, different drugs like; Yaba, Phensidyl, Ganja, Heroine, Pethidrine etc. have become so available that it is not possible to keep anyone away from his desired drugs anymore and this is the scenario of not only the city or metro areas but even also of deep rural areas. In the current context, it will not be wrong to say that, the future of Bangladeshi youth is unimaginably dark.
In the last few years, drugs, especially yaba, have spread to the deepest corners of the country. Due to its small size and easy carrying features, thousands of people have become its dealer or trader. Many, with financial constraint, turned into drug dealer from drug abuser. Along with yaba, other drugs have also become widely available at all corners of the country.
Now drugs are available at a simple tea stall of a remote village. As the rural youth are now earning well through different businesses like; fisheries and agro based business along with huge remittance in the rural areas, the financial condition of the rural families has improved a lot. A large portion of that income is spent behind drugs due to its availability as well as its illicit yet illogical charm.
Both in metro and rural areas, there are millions of drug abusers now and a huge demand has been created for those. Few illegal businessmen are taking the benefits of this ever increasing demand. They are operating an organized channel to spread those drugs throughout the country. With the help and support of the administration and influence of the politicians, an almost invincible network of drugs business has been established.
Though Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been successful from many aspects and has been well recognized by not only the countrymen but also by the global leaders, it will not be unwise to say her government has failed to stop the progression of different drugs in our society. This failure is due to the involvement of her fellow party members and law enforcement agencies in the drugs trade which actually allowed drugs to reach every corner of the country.
In light of the existing scenario, Sheikh Hasina and her government has declared a war on drugs trade few days ago. A throughout operation is being conducted by the law enforcers to find out and arrest the drugs traders. In this process, more than 100 allegedly drug dealers had been killed till now. All of these deaths were of same nature and was termed as ‘death in crossfire’.
Many human rights organizations and the opposition parties have protested this drive due to so many deaths rather than arrests. We cannot actually confirm that if the killed ones were really drug traders despite that claim by the law enforcers. Moreover, the relatives of many of the deceased ones have demanded that, the law enforcers took away the deceased ones and killed them.
This operation is under question for some reasons. It seems illogical during the holy month of Ramadan prior to Eid to launch such a killing operation. Even if the killed persons were involved with illegal drug trade, their family members were not mostly part of their crimes. But due to this operation, they also are suffering immensely.
Bangladeshi PM, also known as ‘Mother of Humanity’, should have a plan for the family members of those killed drug dealers especially prior to Eid. There should be a comprehensive plan for their rehabilitation and the upbringing of the children of those families to provide them a better life and chance. Otherwise, it is a complete brutality not only to the killed ones but also to their family.
Unbelievable it is that our law enforcers at the different parts of the country kill a criminal following the same pattern. Everywhere they are attacked, they fire in return, they kill a drug dealer, rescue arms and drugs and declare the dead body as that of a drug dealer. It seems like a way of spreading panic enabling a specific group of the law enforcers earn dishonestly by threatening innocent people and that have been already evident in some cases.
Killing a few drug dealers is not the solution to fight drugs issues of Bangladesh. These people are just middlemen who can grow from anywhere. If the demand exists and the supply can move in easily, there will be no lack of middlemen to channelize the drugs from source to the abusers.
We believe the law enforcers have proper information on the people who are bringing in drugs to our country. They should strike on them together to stop the flow of drugs to our country. The borders through which drugs passes in should be closed and strictly monitored. The government must focus on closing the sources completely.
Moreover, we must create huge awareness against the usage of illegal drugs by portraying the negative impacts of those substances on human body and mind. Real life examples of drug addicts should be used for nationwide campaign. Families should quickly recognize if their children are addicts and should take immediate measures.
To change the course of the future generation, behavioural education should be introduced at primary level of education. There should be exams and marking for behavioural education from two aspects – if the student prohibits himself from bad things and if he makes others aware of the wrongdoings. Passing in that subject must be mandatory and the curriculum makers should start working immediately on making that syllabus which will make the children aware of negative impacts of drug abuse, eve teasing, bullying, dishonesty etc.
There is no way we can allow drugs to shatter any more valuable Bangladeshi lives. Integrated operations against drugs is highly required which will intervene at source and consumer level of drugs. There is no space for nationwide drugs abuse if we want to chase Bangabandhu’s dream of ‘Golden Bangla’. We hope our government and law enforcers act courageously with complete honesty and comprehensive plan to save the future of Bangladesh.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA) and Vice-Chairman, Democracy Research Center (DRC).