Drive against drug: Issue that needs to be addressed
Bangladesh's recent impetus on cracking down on drug abuse and trade has led to some divisive results-while there is no doubt that this is an issue that needs to be addressed, the approach taken by the authorities has been questioned. The country recently passed the Narcotics Control Bill 2018, which provides for the death penalty for possession of low quantities of certain drugs. This is in contradiction to the recommendations of The Global Commission on Drug Policy, which is a panel of world leaders and intellectuals, committed to studying how the war on drugs has led to "devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world", and which advocates for a healthcare-based approach to drug policy, as opposed to criminalisation.
However, the surrender of 102 drug lords on February 16 now seems merely an eyewash as the yaba empire in Teknaf remains mostly intact with some of their family members and paid agents taking care of the illegal trade. Various yaba dealers are now in Cox's Bazar District Jail but their yaba empires are being maintained by their relatives who have lost no time to keep the trade on going. Their gang members often apply unique and desperate techniques to smuggle yaba from Myanmar to Bangladesh. They are now reportedly using choppers and sometimes even cross the Naf River swimming with yaba pills inside poly bags.
The police got the names of some 636 people after the surrender of 102 top godfathers and dealers who are running the illicit business empires behind the scenes. They are now drawing up a fresh list of people involved in the drug trade for a second surrender programme. Some drug traders in Teknaf and Cox's Bazar communicated with a private TV channel correspondent, who had acted as an intermediary between narcos and law enforcers. So we can see the influential role of journalism in getting the yaba traders to give up their illicit trade to lead productive and useful lives. But journalists alone don't bear the duty of keeping society drug free--the police must keep a more proactive role in this regard.
Such surrender initiatives should have originated from the local administration and the police, instead of a journalist. As it is the police are failing dismally in trying to check the law and order situation by not reigning in the people who are engaged in carrying out the trade of their relatives.
More must also be done to ask Myanmar to keep their yaba factories in check--as it is they are doing practically next to nothing to stop or hinder the trade. A more concerted effort from Myanmar could conclusively stop the supply of the trade forever. Hence the onus is on us to stop this trade--but stopping transportation of the drug is much more difficult as the avenues for carrying the drug are far more varied than the sources of production.