On Wednesday, the State Government was directed by the Kerala High Court to set up campus police units to conduct regular checking inside the educational institutions and personal search of the students as the instances of drug abuse in Kerala are rising.
Retired IPS officer and former District Police Chief of Kottayam, N Ramachandran sent a representation to the High Court highlighting various aspects of Drug Abuse in Kerala. Taking note of the menace of the drug consumption and trade, the order was passed in a petition registered suo motu by the High Court. The letter by N Ramachandran shows concern over the increasing number of crimes by youth under the influence of drugs.
There has been a significant increase in the number of drug abuse cases and it has become a serious problem in educational institutions revealed in a report of the State Special Branch. Out of 400 Institutions, 74.12% schools, 20.89% colleges and professional institutions and 4.97% other institutions like ITI, Polytechnics etc are affected by drug abuse the court observed. The court also said that it was revealed by the report that a range of drugs from Ganja, Hashish to Synthetic Drugs were used by the student community and most of the cases registered were of possession and sale of Ganja. Students also inhaled chemicals like fevicol, whitener and ink for getting intoxicated which caused illness and sometimes even damage their organs permanently but it was observed that no legal action was taken as these substances do not come under the purview of NDPS Act,1985.
The economic underperformance, crime, risk, children and health inequalities by high drug usage in Kerala, the court lamented. Hence, the Court pronged a three-pronged strategy in which there would be mass media campaigns to inform people about the dangers of drug use, education about drugs in schools and to raise awareness and change the attitude of targeted groups like vulnerable and disadvantaged young people. The Court said that enforcement or treatment is less effective than preventive education and public awareness and that this approach is cost-effective too.
As the law enforcement agencies are not conducting regular checking inside the educational institutions so a bench of Justices S Manikumar and AM Shaffique ordered the State Government to take measures and make it easier for the police and excise personnel to enforce NDPS Act,1985 in educational institutions.
Besides, the establishment of campus police, the Court issued a few directions to be implied. Firstly, the state government should have a meeting of all key officials to chalk out programmes to reduce the substance abuse among teenagers and the youth. Secondly, guidelines should be provided to universities, colleges and school authorities to make the campuses drug free. Thirdly, Kerala Police should seek the services of Student Police Cadets, NCC, NSS and other similar organisations as the students are unaware of the legal repercussions. Fourth, it should also introduce a special scheme to make sure that the premises of the educational institutions are drug-free. Lastly, police should also establish counselling and rehabilitation mechanism to help students who are already into drugs and addicts.
The court emphasized that these directions must comply strictly within a period of three months.