There have been sporadic eradications, but this half heartedness has emboldened more opium flowers to blossom in the Valley known for its lethal guns and non lethal flowers.
The two pictures below are of fields in Anantnag district of Kashmir.
This is an introduction to the rampant increase of opium poppy cultivation in the adjacent state of Himachal Pradesh. I want to show that what is happening in HP is not an isolated occurrence. It is part of a bigger and organised plan to keep the about 2.5 million opium addicts in India happy and their families unhappy.
"Ex-British MP's son dies of "drug overdose""
was the heading of a report in the Indian Express of the 15th of June, 2010.
The deceased Adam Coombs was just 19 years old when he died of excess of opium. His friend Ross Taylor, also 19 years old, reported "Me and Adams went for a late night stroll in the valley where we took opium. Around 3 pm the next day I woke up and found Adam sleeping. I tried to wake him up and found that his body was cold."
A sad incident. A young promising life nipped in the bud. A tree that could have grown to full height cut down by the greed of drug traffickers, and the indifference of the authoritites.
Adam Coombs was the son of Derek Coombs, a former Conservative MP from Birmingham Yardley, and perhaps that is why this untimely and unfortunate death was reported at length in news papers in India.
There is an even gloomier conclusion to this story. There have been many unexplained but similar deaths that have been given a quiet burial all over the spectacular mountain district of Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India, but they have been unsung and unreported. All this while the menace of illicit opium cultivation has stealthily kept increasing. How many more lives will have to be lost to avarice and rapaciousness of the hoods before the enfrcement officers wake up? Or will they never wake up ? and let these deaths continue?
All the concerned narcs authorities, State and Central, are aware of it. But they act as if in fits- off & seldom on. During this year's opium lancing season the Director General of the Narcotics Control Bureau had visited some parts of Kullu that had opium cultivation. There was some eradication in places. Not enough obviously otherwise poor young Adams would still have been alive.
Opium poppy is a flower that can be seen from far away. It can't stay hid, and yet the fields are not detected in time.
- A field in Sainj Valley of Kullu-
- The Pradhan and his Deputy (Village Council Head) of Bithu Kanda, Sainj, Kullu -
- Another field with the same story-
- This Sainj field had sprinkler irrigation!-
- This cautious farmer has grown wheat next to his opium field-
This then is my grouse.....
Here, in these exquisite surroundings, a beautiful but deadly flower blossoms in April and early May. The opium is extracted strictly for tainted profit. These people had never before cultivated opium. This dangerous agricultural habit has grown over the past 15 years or so. And it seems that it will continue to grow. People from this district, and from other parts of Himachal Pradesh and adjacent states of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir too, collect opium from here.
Earlier foreigners used to head here for cannabis and hashish, now they also get opium in addition. Cannabis is still a major agricultural product (Malana Queen is famous ), and its hashish with a THC content of 10-25% is wanted the word over. Had there been a Cannabis Cup this variety would beat even the Moroccan one, as it easily does the Afghan one (3-10% THC).
But, I was writing of opium. If this fiendish agricultural activity is not squashed in an another decade or even earlier there will be heroin from here and then gangs and gang wars. Too much a price to pay for official sloppiness. . . .
........ and don't forget there is Kashmir too that has extensive opium cultivation. Kashmir- battered and bruised from both the insurgents and the soldiers- still manages to cultivate opium in full view of both. Unless both sides are blind. Kashmir is where I started this blog from and that is how I end.
In both these states easy riders are making easy money from illicit opium cultivation. These illicit cultivators are beyond the scope of any decriminalisation. Beyond redemption.