It Is War Against Poppy Cultivation In Jammu And Kashmir8 May 2010
Srinagar: Beware farmers! Think twice before cultivating poppy in Kashmir. Police could seize your land to settle the central paramilitary forces presently occupying government buildings.Police in south Kashmir's district of Pulwama have issued an ultimatum to the farmers to destroy the poppy and bhang crops or else prepare for their lands to be seized for settling the security forces. 'We have asked the farmers to mend their ways and destroy the illegal crops before the end of deadline next week. We are contemplating that we will ask the security forces to vacate the government buildings and use this land for constructing barracks and settlements', said a senior police officer. South Kashmir is notorious for cultivating poppy and cannabis, prompting police to take harsh measures. In Pulwama district alone, poppy crops spread over 5670 kanals (20 kanals form one hectare) were destroyed last year. This year, poppy crops on more than 200 kanals have been destroyed so far. 'Due to our efforts this year the poppy cultivation has gone down significantly. We had roped in Imams, village heads and respected citizens to create awareness about this trend. We are happy that it has yielded positive results', said Kifayat Hyder, SSP Pulwama. Figures reveal that more than 15,000 kanals of land is under the cultivation of poppy, bhang and cannabis in three districts of south Kashmir. Most of the poppy cultivation is undertaken on the agricultural land which has been converted illegally into poppy growing tracts. The poppy crops are camouflaged in a way to look like paddy fields to avoid detection by the law enforcing agencies. The poppy cultivation starts in May and the crops are ready by September. After harvesting the farmers convert the flowers into husk manually as well as by machines. The poppy husk is later sent to different states where it is further processed and sold to drug cartels. We have adopted a two pronged strategy: to educate the masses about its ill effects and also to destroy the crops where they are', said Showkat Malik, SSP Anantnag. He said some share of this illegal money also goes to the militants. This year the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has used satellite imagery to identify land that is being illegally converted for poppy cultivation.