Thiruvananthapuram: Last year, eight plus-one students of a government school on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram city fainted outside their classroom, sending the school authorities into a tizzy. Initially they were unaware of what had gone wrong, later realizing that the gang had consumed alcohol, which had been obtained by one of them. She had mixed it in the water kept in a steel water container of her fellow student and then mixed it here and there. Some people drank without knowing what was in the bottle. One of them had to be admitted to the hospital.
According to law enforcement officials, drinking among students is not a new problem, but the seriousness of the issue has become increasingly apparent in recent years. Still, what has emerged is just the tip of the iceberg, he says.
“Drug abuse among students originates from tobacco products and alcohol. Synthetic drugs are the next level,” said an excise official.
The anti-narcotics cell of the Thiruvananthapuram city police has recently started contacting parents of students who regularly skip classes. What was revealed was a horrifying reality: many parents had no idea that their children were skipping class, and in many cases, they were too afraid to question their children.
“Many students were aggressive and rude towards their parents. Our intervention made them realize that their children were in the grip of a drug racket,” said a source in the police department.
Now every day officials collect information about absent students from schools located in the city. They then call the parents of those who missed class to find out their whereabouts. “Then many parents are shocked to find out what their children are doing. In many cases students were found linked to drug rackets. These include girls, who mainly join the racket because they can stay under the radar,” said S Balakrishnan, assistant commissioner of the Anti-Narcotic Cell. He said that the girl students are seduced by anti-social elements as well as their classmates. “Once romantic relationships are established, the exploitation begins. They are then used as drug carriers,” he said. An excise official said there were instances where such carriers were subjected to various forms of abuse. In the latest case, an eighth class student was sexually exploited by giving him intoxicants.
Many carriers become hardcore addicts who exhibit behavioral disorders and engage in violence. An excise official involved in the rehabilitation of drug addicts said there have been cases where family members have been victims of sexual violence by minor boys who consume drugs. “In one case it was the mother of a plus-one student who revealed that her son was regularly sexually abusing her. In some cases, the victims are siblings,” the officer said.
According to excise department sources, gender is not a factor when it comes to drug abuse. “The principal of a government higher secondary school told us that many girl students consume banned tobacco products. Our investigation revealed that students had formed groups and bags of product were held in each member’s mouth for two minutes before being passed around. Tobacco products have become obsolete for many people. Synthetic drugs such as MDMA are now more popular. It’s a scary situation,” he said. Yet many parents of drug users are unable to understand the seriousness of the issue, an excise official said.
The unanimous opinion of law enforcers is that drug abuse is an issue mostly among teenagers. The trauma inflicted on the body and mind at that age will have devastating consequences,” said an official attached to the Vimukti Nashamukti Project of the excise department.