Common drug users, though significant in numbers, are considered a non-entity here, says Devesh K. Pandey

Although sensational incidents like the 7 Safdarjung Road episode bring into sharp focus the issue of drug abuse in high places from time to time, there are hundreds of others given to cheaper forms of drugs who can be spotted in various states of inebriation on the Capital's pavements attracting no attention at all.

Young men from wealthy backgrounds indulge in rave late-night parties, "experimenting" with "party drugs" like cocaine, ecstasy and other synthetic stuff. These spoilt kids of the rich and the powerful do it just for "adventure and fun". In case things go out of hand, they have all the means to "manage" the situation and arrange for the best possible treatment.

There is another section of the population here in the Capital that is given to a variety of drugs, but perhaps for all the different reasons. They comprise rickshaw-pullers, labourers, daily wage workers, street children and jobless migrants from States like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan who toil hard to eke out a living here. As most of them do not have any shelter, they live under flyovers, in and around railway stations and on footpaths.

Small-time drug peddlers target these people and make available to them drugs like smack, charas and marijuana. Over a period, the craving for drugs becomes so strong that they start trying anything for a "kick". From inhaling solutions that come with liquid erasers to rubber solutions, they are game for anything.

The police have found out that such drug-users also commit thefts to fund their daily dose of drugs. Such elements become a big menace for area residents and in most cases the police turn a blind eye towards them. "We do not round up smack addicts as we are afraid that they would die in the lock-up if not provided their daily dose of drugs. In that case, we would also have to face enquiries for custodial deaths," points out a policeman.

In several cases it has been found that these elements enter into the world of crime and become a problem for the law and order authorities.

At present these drug users, significant in numbers, are virtually considered a non-entity here.

"There are a few non-government organisations working in this area, but it has not had much of an impact on the ground level," concedes an NGO activist.

Many who are into social work feel that the media that focuses on high-society parties in the name of catering to the demands of their "niche" clientele should also throw more light on this sensitive issue. The authorities concerned should work out ways to provide these lesser mortals the necessary medical care and proper rehabilitation and make them useful members of society.

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