Kerala

Cochin Carnival to run Vimukthi campaign

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Organisers hope anti-drug campaign will boost acceptance of the fete among family audience

In a first, the Excise Department is set to collaborate with the annual Cochin Carnival this year under Vimukthi, its social campaign to create awareness against the growing abuse of addictive substances.

Excise officials will be at the Fort Kochi Parade Ground through the three days of music concert, which is part of the carnival, from December 29 and will combine anti-drugs campaign with enforcement.

The organisers of the event approached the Excise Department in an attempt to attract more families to raise the profile of the event beyond the youth.

Troublemakers beware

“We are planning to be at the event with the multi drug-testing kit which will help detect whether a person has consumed drug by putting a droplet of saliva or sweat on a strip that forms part of the kit. Potential troublemakers visiting the venue will be tested. In fact, the department is planning to make its presence felt in a similar manner at all large gatherings across the State,” said A.S. Ranjith, Deputy Excise Commissioner, Ernakulam. The one-time use kit costs about ₹500.

Shijo Antony, counsellor at a Vimukthi counselling centre, said the kits would be beneficial in making meaningful intervention for the treatment of drug addicts. The counselling centre at the Ernakulam divisional excise office has handled nearly 1,000 counselling sessions in a limited period with the majority of the victims in the 14-22 age group.

“Often, the victims do not admit to the use of drugs, especially psychotropic drugs such as MDMA and LSD. At the best, they confess to the use of ganja leaving it to us to make them open up through various counselling techniques,” said Mr. Antony.

He, however, said the protocol for the use of the kits needed to be looked into. The evidential value of tests held using the kits also remained to be clarified.

Refin Raphael, one of the organisers of the three-day musical event, said the anti-drug campaign alongside the event was expected to boost its acceptance among family audience while retaining the youngsters.

Earlier this year, the State Government had informed the Kerala High Court about its decision to equip the police with the kits. The court was told that initially 50 kits would be bought in response to a public interest litigation registered by the court suo motu against the rampant drug abuse in the State.

The decision was made on the basis of the experience of the Vadodara police in Gujarat, which proved nearly 50 NDPS cases using the kits.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 11:48:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/cochin-carnival-to-run-vimukthi-campaign/article30369052.ece

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