By Shubhankar Thapliyal

Rajesh Gill, a certified drug addict, was trudging on a dirt path somewhere in Punjab. He had gone down very deep into an addiction to heroin with his body becoming lean, short and wiry.

After coming to a quiet spot, he looked over his shoulders for police. He then proceeded to roll up his sleeve taking out a syringe. Making a fist to plump his shoulder, he injected himself with an Afghan Heroin Compound which he mixed with some water taken from a public fountain.

Only the moonlight guides his hand through the procedure. He then breaks the used and bloody syringe in half and then throws it in the tall grass where all the other waste needles and syringes lie.

Later asked why, he replies, lighting a cigarette, his eyes fluttering, “I feel so high when I shoot up. My voice changes; my head spins. The high right now is so strong, it feels like enough to last me 10 or 12 hours.”

I was shocked when I saw this in a news column in 2014, when it was reported, with the matter hushed up even then.

Yes! Welcome to the Heroin alley!

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India’s 1.2 billion population today finds itself between the Golden Crescent (Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan) and the Golden Triangle (Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand).

Both regions produce vast amounts of Heroin – Afghanistan itself accounts for nearly 75 percent of the world’s supply.

This is due to a combination of situations such as political instability, widespread corruption, and the ideal mixture of climate, soil, and terrain to cultivate opium poppy (the plant from which the drug is made)

And heroin users appear to be growing across the country day by day at an alarming rate with the drug getting readily available for everyone.

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Origins And Its Aliases

Heroin as such isn’t some drug that can make someone brag so easily. It’s quite expensive and quite difficult to produce.

It was first manufactured in 1898 by the Bayer pharmaceutical company in Germany and was marketed as a treatment for tuberculosis as well as a remedy for morphine addiction.

During the 1850s, opium addiction was a very major problem in the USA. Meanwhile, UK had two wars fought on Opium against China in the next two decades, with the production of Opium happening in India itself.

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Basically, Opium was used by the British to bribe Chinese trade officials and the bureaucracy of the country for tea.

Now, the solution to the American problem now was to provide addicts with a less potent and a “non-addictive” substitute—morphine. But Morphine was even worse.

Now, with Opium already a trouble, and the problem with morphine on the rise, the solution came to be another so-called non-addictive substitute (and the very hero of this story here)—heroin, which later on proved to be even better in getting people addicted from the previous two.

Now heroin, in its purest form is fine white powder. But more often, it is found to be of rose grey, brown or black in color.

Heroin is highly addictive and the withdrawal symptoms are extremely painful.

The drug quickly breaks down the immune system, finally leaving one sickly, extremely thin and bony and then, ultimately, dead.

Street Names commonly used are Big H, Brown Sugar, H, Hell Dust, Horse, Junk, Nose Drops, Skag, Smack, Thunder, etc.

Udta Punjab?

The problem is especially bad in Punjab, a relatively wealthy state of 28 million people in northwestern India.

Well, what Udta Punjab portrays is actually true although it’s a fictional account.

Everyone might have seen scenes at the start of the movie itself with young lads burning up a smack to inhale injecting syringe in their arms and buying across the borders. The sad story doesn’t end very well itself.

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This is the story of today’s Punjab, in the shadows.

According to a study published by the Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies, Gill aged 24 is among the estimated roughly 70 percent of young Punjabi men who suffer from a substance abuse problem.

The percentage has likely increased since then. And like many of Gill’s peers, Afghan heroin, smuggled across the nearby border with Pakistan, is the drug of choice.

Not all that, the traditional Doda or Phukki has been a problem for a very long time affecting a wider circle than the expected rich kids and rock stars.

According to a survey by the Punjab Opioid Dependency Survey (PODS), AIIMS claims that the largest concentration of consumers comes from economically weaker sections with limited education and employment.

This video which became viral is the harsh reality of our society.

Also, it’s not just Pakistan that is the source of heroin. Cottage Industries are budding up across UP and Rajasthan as well supplying the drug.

Also, drugs are trafficked from Golden Triangle through Manipur by peddlers across the state.

The Fight Against Heroin

Although the Punjab Government released a shorter version of the PODS report in 2016, the actual report is still confidential.

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The new government has still not yet been able enough to act on the issue since it has come to power.

Instead of banning a movie showing the truth, why don’t they focus on an issue that is going to take a long drawn war?

Even after so much increase, it must be noted that the people of Punjab haven’t lost the fight.

Of course, the war against this menace will be a long one but not invincible.

Its high time that people get to know of this menace soon before it spreads across the entire nation even more rapidly than it has already in many states.


Image Credits: Google Images


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