Even as the RBP intensifies measures to curb drug trafficking issues in the country, cases seem to be increasing.
Only concrete data would substantiate this conjecture, which as yet is not available. But His Majesty The King’s recent national day address put the problem in the perspective.
At a time when we are grappling with the rise of drug trafficking issues in the country, the RBP’s plan to establish a dedicated drug division and police stations along the borders is most welcome.
Drug trafficking is a lucrative business—there is no better or softer way to put it. It’s a big commercial enterprise.
The national anti-drug task force has been formed. This is a major development in our fight against drug trafficking. An integrated and whole-of-society response has become vitally necessary.
When the Royal Bhutan Police embarked on its fight against drugs in December 2013, they claimed the nationwide drug crackdown would make the society drug-free. The lack of coordinated efforts to address the issue should not be a problem henceforth.
The number of drug peddlers has not reduced, going by the pictures RBP publishes on its social media pages. We can figure out the extent of the illegal business from the instances and amounts of drugs seized during the pandemic when the borders were closed!
In 2020, when movement restriction was at the hardest, there were 455 cases of drug smuggling cases, including substance abuse by minors. More than 7,000 people were taken behind the bars for the crime.
What is clear from the figures is that the number of people involved in drugs did not decrease after the crackdown. And with drugs penetrating from the borders, the fight did not meet its intended purpose. We need to plug this hole.
With the illegal drug trade continuing, isn’t it time to find some effective drug control mechanisms? Isn’t it also time to focus on treatment, awareness, and sensitisation?
We need a sensible drug control programme that includes everyone, not just law enforcers and penalties. Educating society on the adverse impacts of pharmaceutical drugs and substance abuse on youth is critically necessary.
We also have to streamline the application of laws on drugs. Everyone knows that high-profile cases are going unnoticed. When drug laws apply differently to different offenders, our fight to curb trafficking cases will go in vain.
Kill the nodal lines of drug trafficking without fear or favour and strengthen our vigilance from the border up. That is the only solution. So much rests on the efficacy of the RBP initiatives.