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DJ Aqeel case puts spotlight back on celebs and drug habits
Binoy Valsan in Mumbai | June 07, 2007 18:25 IST
Last Updated: June 07, 2007 19:26 IST
The detention of DJ Aqeel at the Dubai International airport on Monday has brought the spotlight back on celebrities and the drug culture.
The bandwagon of showmen and women across the globe has always maintained a steady yet discreet relationship with narcotics.
We have a long list of celebrities, not only the ones from the film fraternity, but faces from every nook and corner of Page 3 who have been caught in the drug net. This is just one side of the coin, it is the other side i.e. their influence on the youth of the country that paints a scary picture.
"It is a very dangerous syndrome as these celebrities hold a strong sway over people, especially the youth. There is a legion of youngsters in a city like Mumbai who would give anything and everything to emulate these so called icons," said Dr Yusuf Merchant, president, Drug Abuse Information and Rehabilitation and Research Centre.
According to him, the major chunk of drug abusers fall into the age bracket of 16-21 years in Mumbai. The exact figures also keep on fluctuating as there are additions and deletions from the list on a regular basis. He also attributed the 'cool' tag attached to drug abuse to the Western media and its sway over youngsters.
"Our value systems have gone through a major upheaval in the recent past. Suddenly everyone fits into a group; look and act cool and become generally acceptable to a maximum number of people. The situation has turned so grim that drug abuse is no longer considered as something bad, but rather charismatic as some of the idols of the present generation, mainly musicians were big time junkies," he added.
An alarming factor in our society post-'90s is the rise of drug abusers in middle class and upper middle class families. According to Dr Shantanu Donde, an HIV and de-addiction consultant based in Mumbai, the number of teenagers resorting to drugs from middle class families are on the rise.
"Earlier in Mumbai, the southern part of the city was the major narcotic hub, but with the increase in the number of users these drug peddlers and dealers have mushroomed all over the city," he said.
According to a media professional based in the city, he smokes up once in a while just for the fun of it and not because he is depressed or stressed out.
As Yusuf Merchant told rediff.com, a number of youngsters get sucked into the drug vortex as they are of the opinion that certain sacrifices and compromises are to be made to get ahead in their respective careers.
"In an office set up where the chief or group leader happens to be into drugs, then there are high chances of his subordinates picking up the habit or at least trying it once so they can get into his good books and apparently give a boost to their careers," he pointed out.
According to another Mumbai-ite, 'soft' stuff like ganja (marijuana) is easier to procure in the city as most of the paanwallahs especially the ones in Colaba always have it on them. They can usually be found near the major pubs in this locality that mainly cater to foreign tourists.
"Apart from ganja which you can easily score from any paanwallah in the city, premium drugs are hard to lay your hands on. This is where social networking and friendship play a major role. You can get anything here in Mumbai provided you know the right person," said another young man working with a major firm in the city.
According to an expert, there are different layers among drug dealers when it comes to premium stuff like cocaine, LSD etc.
There will be someone who smuggles it into the country, who will be in the first level. Then it is collected by a trusted hand of the drug dealer who later assesses the drugs (weight and quality) and distributes it among the peddlers.
The drug mafia smuggles cocaine into the country by stashing it inside soft drink concentrate bottles and drugs like LSD (acid) comes in the form of paper sheets from which it is later extracted and sold off to the customers.
It is now common knowledge that drug abuse is associated with HIV infection and AIDS.
"Ecstasy and cocaine are actually love drugs and can act as sexual stimulants. It can also temporarily boost sexual drive and thereby comes with a potential AIDS threat attached with it," added Yusuf Merchant.
Mumbai, according to some experts, ranks number one in party drug abuse (cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine etc.) closely followed by Kolkata and Bangalore among Indian metros. However, the exact figures to corroborate this claim are not available at the moment.