By: Sheikh Jamsheed
Kashmir, a region once renowned for its spiritual enlightenment and cultural richness, now grapples with a myriad of issues that cast a dark shadow over its idyllic landscape. The escalating levels of crime, uncertainties, drug peddling, and an alarming surge in suicidal rates have led to increasing concerns about the future of the region.
While the valley of Kashmir has long been hailed as the “land of Sufis,” a sanctuary of moral and spiritual enlightenment, it now finds itself ensnared in a web of distressing problems. The prevalence of actions that contradict the teachings of the Almighty and Prophet Muhammad (SAW), along with the involvement of underage children in harmful activities such as smoking, further contribute to the worrisome state of affairs.
It is essential to recognize that “Peerzada Ghulam Ahmad Mahjoor,” a renowned Kashmiri poet known as “Shair-e-Kashmir” (The poet of Kashmir), has played a pivotal role in preserving the cultural and traditional heritage of the region through his poetry. His verses reflect the beauty and harmony of Kashmir, which is now marred by turmoil and hardship.
The rise in drug addiction is of deep concern, with a significant increase in the number of suicides and the prevalence of other destructive behaviors. Recent data from the Ministry of Social Justice and the commission revealed alarming statistics, indicating widespread substance abuse in the region.
According to this data, approximately 1.08 lakh men and 36,000 women in Jammu and Kashmir used cannabis in 2022. Moreover, 5.34 lakh men and 8,000 women consumed opioids, 1.6 lakh men and 8,000 women abused anodynes, and 1.27 lakh men and 7,000 women were hooked on inhalants. A separate report by the BBC highlighted that over 52,000 people in Kashmir admitted to using heroin in a check conducted by the Jammu and Kashmir administration in 2022.
This distressing situation is further exacerbated by the rising rate of suicides in the region. According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) report, the suicide rate in Jammu and Kashmir has increased significantly, reaching 26 times the rate recorded previously. Over the decade from 2010 to 2020, more than 20,000 people attempted suicide, with 3,024 cases of suicide deaths reported in the valley alone, mainly among individuals aged 16 to 25.
Ghulam Ahmed Mehjoor’s poetry, which once celebrated the vibrancy and beauty of Kashmir, now serves as a poignant metaphor for the state of the region. The “desolate garden” and “torn flowers” in his verses symbolize the challenges faced by Kashmir, which yearns for a revival of its former beauty and harmony.
To address these pressing concerns, it is imperative to educate and enlighten the youth about the perils of drug addiction. Creating awareness through seminars and programs, as well as promoting open discussions, can be instrumental in guiding the young generation back onto the right path.
Parents also play a crucial role in monitoring their children’s activities and friendships, ensuring they are guided toward a brighter and more positive future. In this endeavor, tapping into the rich cultural heritage and values of Sufism can serve as a source of inspiration and introspection for the youth.
Kashmir, often described as a paradise on Earth, must not let these challenges overshadow its natural beauty and cultural richness. Through collective efforts, awareness, and guidance, the region can rekindle the light of hope and rejuvenate its cherished values.