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STATE EXUDES RESOLVE ON International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

By Our Reporter

SHILLONG, June 26: On the occasion of International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Meghalaya roared in a single voice the resolve to shun drugs and combat the menace beleaguering the society to this day.
A wide range of programmes were carried out across several parts of the state with different organisations and government offices zealously participating on the day.
In Shillong, a multi-stakeholder symposium paved the way for an interactive session with participants from various departments and organisations dedicated to raising awareness about the alarming rise in drug abuse and trafficking.
The event, themed “The Evidence is Clear: Invest in Prevention,” was a collaborative effort between the Drug Reduction Elimination and Action Mission (DREAM) project under the Social Welfare department, the Indian Drug Users’ Forum, and the Meghalaya Users’ Forum.
The symposium was attended by Social Welfare Minister Paul Lyngdoh, as the chief guest. In his address, Lyngdoh expressed deep concern over the growing drug problem, noting that Meghalaya, once a transit point for narcotics, now faces widespread drug penetration. He urged everyone to view this issue as a collective battle, emphasising, “As a government, we do not claim to be the ultimate repository of all wisdom. We are learning day by day, but it’s important to recognise the positive strides we’ve made in increasing recovery rates and raids.”
The state’s HIV-positive rate due to narcotics usage is 11 per cent, compared to the national average of 9 per cent.
Over the past two years, 610 individuals have been arrested for drug trafficking in Meghalaya, with seized drugs valued at over Rs 300 crore. The Department of Social Welfare will provide incentives to traditional heads, or Dorbar Shnong, to mobilise the Village Defence Parties (VDPs) in the fight against drugs.
Lyngdoh, who is also the Minister in charge of Tourism department, emphasised the importance of community participation in this initiative. “What was lacking all along was community participation; it was there but was limited to efforts like de-addiction and counseling,” said Lyngdoh. “For us to engage proactively, which is why the very missing link that this government has finally been able to address, is that leaders of the community assisting the police against drugs cannot be effective until we have community participation. That’s why the Durbars have been requested to come up with any further suggestions.”
The department is currently seeking suggestions from all Dorbar Shnongs, particularly in East Khasi Hills, which has seen a significant rise in drug-related issues. “By the end of this month, we will be able to collect all suggestions in writing and start reviving the VDPs not only in East Khasi Hills but in the entire state of Meghalaya,” added Lyngdoh.
To support these efforts, the department of social welfare is assessing funding from the central government to incentivize VDP volunteers. The state has also launched a mission called DREAM, led by the Chief Minister, involving the departments of Health, Social Welfare, Police, and Education to ensure coordinated efforts.”
Women peddling drugs is a growing concern, as they often garner sympathy and are not easily suspected. Lyngdoh highlighted the issue, stating, “The rising incidence of women drug peddlers is a growing concern for the state.”
The minister also noted the diverse range of drugs being consumed in the state, from tobacco to narcotics, and reiterated the government’s proactive stance. “Throughout the length and breadth of Meghalaya, even at the level of hamlets and villages, we are proactive as a government.”
Lyngdoh also reported on the scale of the drug problem: “Drugs worth Rs 300 crore have been seized, and 610 individuals have been arrested in the last two years due to drug-related cases. Trials are ongoing in most of these cases.”
Meghalaya has 11,420 injecting drug users, with 11.48 per cent among them being HIV positive. There are sufficient facilities to accommodate this number, reflecting the government’s commitment to addressing the issue comprehensively.
The event also featured a panel discussion moderated by High Court Advocate Shankar Pandey and led by Supreme Court Senior Advocate Tripti Tabdon and Shillong District and Sessions Judge Dashalene R. Kharbteng. They delved into “Legal Provisions and Policy Advocacy in Regulating Drug Use.”
The symposium also witnessed active participation from various government departments, organisations, NGOs, and rehabilitation centres. Recovered patients were involved, empowering them to contribute to the state’s efforts in combating the increase in drug users and traffickers and also addressing the drug crisis in Meghalaya, fostering collaboration and awareness among diverse stakeholders.
NPP women wing holds function
Joining the rest of the state, the National People’s Women Front (NPWF) on Wednesday organised a function at the NPP Office, MC Road, to commemorate the day with the objective to raise awareness about drug abuse prevention within the community.
The meeting was attended by party MLA, Santa Mary Shylla in the presence of NPFW president, Dr Jasmine Lyngdoh, adviser Ransom Sutnga and secretary in-charge FL Mawlong.
The resource persons for the function include Development Associate and Research Scholar, Grazeldine G Lyngdoh, and Kharbok Sohkhlet. The programme, which was chaired by NPWF working president, Biolinda Lyngdoh Nonglait, saw participation from different areas of Khasi-Jaintia Hills.
The NPFW has announced that it will hold awareness programmes against drug abuse and illicit trafficking in different constituencies in the near future.


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