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The dreamden of junkies

Not long ago, Chaubari was where you went if you wanted to seek out drug addicts, criminals and such likes.

Chaubari, for the uninitiated, is a little village in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, on the river Ramganga's serene banks. Here, you have -- rather, had -- addicts of all sorts: Guys who could do with a pinch of powder, guys who could do with a lot of powder and, also, guys who just couldn't do without powder.

Chaubari, in short, was where the majority of youth floated on drug-induced cloud nines -- the dream den of junkies.

But things, now, have changed. Thanks, mainly, to a bunch of local kids, all students of the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya.

Last year, the students had launched a campaign against drug addiction, illiteracy and atrocities against women. The campaign is now bearing fruit, and many social organisations have come forward with help. Recently, the army, too, pitched in with assistance.

''The students take out anti-smack rallies and try to establish communication with the addicted youth. They have succeeded in winning over the support of many families," villagers say.

''In the beginning, they (the addicts) never used to take us seriously," the little campaigners say, "Now they have started listening .''

The students have been attacking the root cause of the evil -- namely, illiteracy. There are over 1,500 illiterates in Chaubari and the adjoining Bukhara, Maheshpur and Goatia villages. The literacy drive which they launched at the beginning of the campaign is still going strong -- to date, they have succeeded in adding over 500 villagers to the literate-list.

On September 27, they plan to hold a literary mela on the school campus.

"The campaign has reached the interior villages. The large number of people associated with it is an indication of its effectiveness and popularity," said Principal Veena Dangwal.

The mobile library which the children introduced, she continued, was evoking encouraging response. "Next month," she said, "we are launching a cleanliness drive in Chaubari and neighbouring areas..."


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