“Experiencing a youth’s life changing story and the responses he got from the environment on his change i.e., after de-addiction, was amazing”
I have been in Lolab valley since the last two years but never heard a word from any youth speaking what is to be done for the development of the society. That too, from a youth who was earlier a drug addict and a radicalized person. The youth with whom I interacted was Fayaz, a resident of Batnar village and was in his twenties (Name of the individual and the village changed due to security reasons).
I met Fayaz in the first week of October during my routine patrolling, Fayaz was sitting with his group of friends across a Nala in Batnar village. On seeing us from a distance his friends left the place and only Fayaz kept sitting alone. As I approached him, Fayaz hid some substance, but on checking drugs were found on him which the group were indulging in together. Fayaz was not in a state to answer. We took him to his home and handed him over to his father and motivated the youth to quit drugs. After a couple of days his father came to meet me. While interacting over a cup of tea I came to know that Fayaz was still into drugs. His father Gulam requested me to help him out in saving his son from the scourge of addiction. I called the doctor over phone and told him about the individual and ensured that Fayaz was taken to a re-habilitation centre where he was treated. The next time I saw him at a taxi stand in the last week of November and the individual was moving out to earn his daily wages.
One day, his father Gulam came to meet me and thanked me for the timely and humanitarian intervention taken. He also told that Fayaz is not taking drugs anymore and they are happy to see their son going to earn his daily wages. The very next day, when I was moving out of my Camp gate I saw a man coming towards the camp carrying his three years old daughter, accompanied by Fayaz.
On asking, the man named Adil said that his daughter has suffered burn injuries and he has come to get the first aid done from the MI Room. Fayaz also reached and stood beside him silently. It seemed that Fayaz wanted to tell me something but remained silent till the man went away after medical aid was provided to his daughter. I moved out and Fayaz was walking next to me. We sat adjacent to a nala. Fayaz said, sir since childhood I had seen Army and Police entering our houses carrying out search, we were scared to see all this. I told him the reasons behind carrying out such security interventions. I made him understand how OGWs are helping the terrorists, how the youth are being radicalized and forced to pick up arms by misguiding them for jihad.
Fayaz said, “absolutely sir, we were ignorant of these things as nobody told us about the Army, now after quitting the group of friends addicted to drugs and after I left drugs, I can feel the positive change in Me”. He said, “Now I have started earning and my relatives have started respecting me. I can now buy things for my brother Yusuf, I can help my father because of which he now feels that his burden has reduced, I can make money for my future and all this is possible now because I quit drugs”. Fayaz said, since young age, teachers must educate student about of the menace of drug abuse. Fayaz was now discussing about his friends who are still addicted to drugs. He conveyed that he will motivate his friends in the de-addiction process. Some of his friends quit drugs and are now living a happy life like Fayaz.
Fayaz and his friends started a Drug Abuse Campaign alongwith Army, Police and Civil administration to save the youth from the Drug menace. It is due to him and his friend’s efforts that there is a new ray of hope in the fight against drugs as they visit schools to educate the children about the menace of drug abuse. Fayaz is a school dropout, who has studied till eighth standard, but what made him bring such positivity in him and in the environment was his self realisation after his treatment in the re-habilitation centre. If every youth realises this and works towards the betterment of society, then definitely Kashmir can see a new dawn of “Drugs Free Kashmir”.