07-Dec-2022  Srinagar booked.net

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How ‘Royal Drug’ Killed Kashmiri Man’s Father, Business, Love

Amid the ongoing war on drugs, the story of a Kashmir man who lost everything to dope is making the menace very challenging.

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Inside his spacious house, Sameer is getting restless for shot. In another room, his mother is cursing “the apple of her eyes” for ruining her once prosperous family. But the spent-son remains relentless in his pleasure pursuit despite shattering his loved ones.

It started in college when smoking hash became his normal hangout. After graduation, as his friends pursued different passions and professions, Sameer made a destructive choice of consuming heroin.

10 years later, the substance abuse has made him bankrupt, battered and blemished in the society treating him as a pariah – the one who even consumed his own blood relation.

“I don’t mind public perceptions, but I’m sorry for what I did to myself,” Sameer remarks.

“While my friends looked for jobs and entrepreneurship after college, I refused to join my father who was an influential trader of our area.”

During those wanderlust days, he bumped into an acquaintance introducing him to a ‘royal drug’ called heroin.

“Aren’t you royal, Sameer?” he recalls the man’s wicked exchange. “You’ve everything royal – car, cellphone, clothes… Why you don’t try this royal pleasure today?”

It was year 2013 and the starry-eyed youngster got convinced to consume a small crystal, of a sugar grain size, for getting ‘super high’.

He remembers placing it on an aluminum foil and adding water to it before lighting and inhaling it.

“I was a rich man so it was easy for me to buy heroin daily unlike smalltime weed peddlers of our area,” Sameer says. “Those addicts sell weed at higher prices to buy heroin.”

But as he started getting high, his wealth got dry. And then came a time when, one by one, he sold his expensive cars and his ancestral land.

“I was helping my father those days in our factory,” he recalls. “But when my personal savings and shares ended, I started stealing money, in lakhs, from the sealed drawers of our factory. The moment my father came to know about my truth, he died with a sudden heart attack in my arms. People say I killed my father.”

But despite that shattering loss, Sameer couldn’t help his heroin urge.

Today, addicts like Sameer make sizeable presence in the Drug De-addiction Centre of Srinagar, where 90 per cent registered cases are heroin users. Some 70 per cent of them use illicit drugs through IV mode.

As per data, 7,403 patients confirmed their drug abuse in the year 2020, followed by 18164 patients in 2021. In February 2022 alone, 1834 patients were confirmed as addicts in the valley.

Most of these addicts can be seen taking shots at the secluded places and thus bringing disrepute to the localities and landmarks. In fact, it took a concerned citizenry of the city an open letter to highlight this menace lately.

“Some of these druggies roam in a dazed state and shadow the outing of our womenfolk,” says Shabir Bhat of Srinagar. “Some of them can be seen dozing off on the street. This has to be discouraged for the good of the society.”

Some doctors even believe that a sudden surge in “heart attacks” are actually the dope-driven demises and are being concealed to avoid the family-shaming.

Following his father’s death, Sameer slipped into the state of illusion. He would inject almost 5 times a day prompting his friends to shift him to a rehabilitation centre.

“It was getting out of control,” Musavir, Sameer’s closest friend, says. “His mother pleaded us [Sameer’s friends] to save her son. We forcibly admitted him in a rehabilitation center in Srinagar, but two days later he escaped from it due to poor-facilities.”

12 days later, Sameer reached home in a shabby state: torn clothes, pale skin, dry lips and a sweaty body.

“All of us got mad at him but he broke down screaming for help,” Musavir recalls.

“Apart from father, he had lost his girlfriend to drugs too, and the twin losses were badly unsettling him.”

At that point, his friends decided to shift him to Jammu’s much-equipped rehabilitation centre. Six months later, Sameer was discharged from it and for a year, he lived a heroin free life.

“But there’s a thing with heroin,” Sameer explains, “even if you abandon it, it won’t leave you.”

In order to address his cravings, he would take small doses in the dead of the night. And during days, he would take heroin substitutes that hospital prescribed him.

“Despite being careful,” he says, “heroin impaired my mind and obscured my memory.”

Due to his addicted mental health, Sameer inflicted huge losses in business. His mother understood his quandary and gave up on him.

Three years later, his father’s factory now stands closed and much of his family fortune has been consumed by heroin. He mostly spends his days staring at his tractors and murmuring his girlfriend’s name like prayers.

“People say very bad things about me,” Sameer says. “My friends say I have also sold my house but I haven’t done that. My problem is that I can’t decide between right and wrong anymore. I want to earn and live happily with my mother, but I have lost a sense of normalcy.”