Deal with this spectre too | Daily News

Deal with this spectre too

Education Minister Susil Premajayantha has declared all out war against those responsible for the spread of drugs among schoolchildren. He said the plan will be put into action in earnest from January 3, 2023. This follows the discovery that young schoolgoers are being increasingly inveigled into taking the highly dangerous ICE narcotic which deranges the user(s) with violent consequences. The incident at the housing complex in Grandpass where a one and a half-year-old toddler was thrown out of the multi-storey building by his uncle was an ICE-induced act where the individual concerned was not responsible for his actions due to the deranged state of mind. Now the schools have fallen victim to this dangerous evil with the prospect of destroying the future of the next generation.

The detection of a packet of ICE in the canteen of a Gampaha school the other day is a clear indication of the widespread nature of the problem. According to Minister Premajayantha, ICE addiction among schoolgoers had gone so deep that even female students are taking to the drug in a big way, not only in well-known City schools but those in the outstations as well. Schools all over the country are witnessing an acute dropout rate due to the prevailing economic situation. Very soon, the spectre of ICE too is going to take its own toll.

Police Spokesman SSP Nihal Talduwa said they will deploy the Special Task Force (STF) exclusively for finding the sources responsible for the distribution of ICE and other dangerous drugs. This task should begin from schools which are increasingly becoming vulnerable to the problem threatening the future of the new generation. ICE, according to experts, has the capacity to cause permanent derangement of users with zero chances of recovery.

How does ICE enter the country? There is reliable information that like the drug Kerala Ganja (KG), ICE is smuggled into the country via Indian fishing boats in the North. The detection of widespread use of ICE among schoolgoers in Kilinochchi as reported in the media gives credence to the possibility.

The Kilinochchi Police with the assistance of parents are said to be going into classrooms in schools and tuition centres in a bid to detect any traces of ICE and possible addicts. Such steps should be taken in Southern schools as well. Every effort should be made by the authorities to seek out ICE users and prevent the spread of the habit to other students.

If not, the problem will snowball to such proportions that the Government, now grappling with a serious economic problem, will have another flank to contend with, which could even outweigh the economic debacle.

What is at stake here is the country’s future talent and manpower resources. Losing the country’s youth to the scourge of drugs will be unthinkable at this stage when there is already a heavy exodus of talent from the country - among them sizable segments of professionals and intelligentsia.

There were media reports that Intelligence units had warned the authorities of a possibility of the country being flooded with drugs such as cocaine, ICE and morphine as far back as two years ago and wanted the relevant laws amended to effectively neutralize the threat. Unfortunately, the Justice Ministry and Attorney General’s Department had been sitting on the matter resulting in the present dire situation vis-à-vis the drug problem.

The top Intelligence brass had even informed the Government that foot-dragging in this respect by relevant agencies has resulted in a widespread expansion of the drug network in the country.

The problem needs a thorough analysis since there could be more to it than meets the eye. The possibility of hostile powers attempting to further destabilize an already battered nation by means of destruction of its human resources through the spread of drugs such as ICE too should be explored.

The immediate task, of course, would be damage control i.e. saving young schoolgoers from becoming addicts. The problem is not going to be easy since it appears that ICE and other drugs are induced into delicacies such as Ice Cream and confectioneries to lure in unsuspecting youth. Hence the net will have to be flung far and wide and the STF should be up to the task.

The decision taken by the Law and Order Ministry to exclusively deploy the STF to bust drug rings and arrest drug related crimes is a commendable move, since the civilian law and order arm -meaning the ordinary Police- has been found not up to the task. The STF would be the ideal enforcement body to combat the drug influenced crime wave that has held society in a vice-like grip.

The job is much too big for the Police per se which could not even prevent the mayhem on May 9, when gangs were allowed to torch the homes of Government politicians while the Police stood idle. Former Law and Order Minister Rear Admiral (Retd) Dr. Sarath Weerasekera often spoke of upgrading the Police Service and equipping it to meet modern demands and challenges. Fresh thinking is indeed needed to revitalize the Police.

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