Cannabis cultivation in Bijbehara villages on rise, invokes public, police anxieties

ESS AHMAD . Dated: 8/8/2018 12:31:20 PM

Authorities summon 258 cultivators, to start major bhang destruction drive

BIJBEHARA, Aug 7: Even as the people in most parts of the valley are turning from agriculture and vegetable farming to more profitable apple growing, the residents of over a dozen villages of Bijbehara in southern Anantnag district continue with the cultivation of bhang (Cannabis). Though the cannabis cultivation has earned these villages a bad name in social circles but that too is not preventing them from the cultivation and trade of the banned crop.
It was for a couple of years in 2013 and 2014 that some residents of these villages had given up cultivating bhang on their land after the then district had gone tough against some smugglers and cultivators but from last three years the villagers have resumed the cultivation.
Some of the notorious villages where the crop has been cultivated on hundreds of kanals of land include Dupatyar , Krandigam, Takibal, Gantalipora, Ladibal , Tulkhan, Semthan, Waghama, Hayar, Gundinowroz and Jamzapora.
According to unofficial figures, over one thousand kanals of land in nearly twenty villages of the area are under bhangh cultivation. However, the officials put the number of kanals of land on which the crop had been grown to around 700 kanals.
With harvesting season of the crop coming nearer, the revenue authorities have gone tough against the cannabis growers.
Besides summoning the cultivators and warning them to destroy the crop on their own, the concerned Tehsildar has prepared a list of villages and is planning to launch a major bangh destruction drive.
'Although 258 charsis stand summoned to office and forced to destroy bhang on their own, the job is only half done. We are coming to your place to catch hold of violators," Tehsildar Bijbehara , Ishtiyaq Mohiudin wrote on social networking site, facebook, while sharing the calendar mentioning dates on which the bhang destruction drive will be carried out in these villages .
The officer in his facebook post also sought cooperation from the public in their drive against the menace.
"We seek cooperation from public and expect volunteers to join us in bhang destruction drive," Tehsildar further wrote.
Some concerned citizens of these villages who are concerned about the cultivation of the banned crop in the area say that curbing this menace is not a one man's job.
"No doubt revenue authorities have taken a stand this time to destroy the bhang but that is not a long term solution. An individual cannot curb this menace. Unless and until all the law enforcing agencies like Excise department and police go tough against the people actually involved in promoting the bhang cultivation nothing is going to happen," said an elderly resident of Dupatyar, a village which had once earned the distinction of being the biggest charas producing village in North India.
Another resident, Arshad Ahmad said that the authorities need to take certain measures to eradicate this menace once for all.
"Authorities should act against those promoting bhangh cultivation in our villages for their monetary gains. Besides awareness workshops and counselling sessions should be held in these villages to make the cultivators aware about the ill effects of charas," Ahmad said.
What worries the concerned citizens of these areas and even some officials is that the market for the charas extracted from the bhang is primarily local and has grown in size.
"Untill few years back the cultivators and smugglers of the area would smuggle their produce outside valley but now its market is entirely local as more and more people mostly youngsters are getting addicted to it," a local social activist rued.



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