One-man army seeks to fight drug addiction

SILCHAR: Magic is not just a hallucinatory promise of a drug-induced haze. A school teacher in Assam is using the medium to prevent rampant drug addiction. Posters, leaflets, wall painting, concerts, street plays and youth festivals are other innovative tools used by Selim Ahmed Khan of Badarpur in Karimganj district to create awareness against substance abuse.

A madrassa teacher by profession, Khan claims to have already taken his message of abstinence to about a thousand school students in the region, educating them about the ills of drug addiction.

"I started the campaign all by myself in May and will continue with the same till November," said Khan, a teacher of Girls Madrassa, Badarpur. "I am aiming to reach 10,000 students directly during this time and five lakh people indirectly in this part of Karimganj district to ensure that they promise not to consume drugs and encourage others to abstain from taking the same," he said. "I have not sought any financial or organizational support from any government agency or NGO. This is exclusively my own effort," Khan added.

The teacher said he is interested to prevent the menace instead of curing those who are already in the clutch of addiction. With the view he targets young students of lower primary, middle and high schools, in the age group of six to 16, who are yet to fall prey to drug abuse. Khan said he is getting full cooperation from the authorities of all schools in the district in organizing awareness programmes, in which a good number of teachers are also seen to join in apart from students.

"It's not easy to attract the attention of young minds in such awareness meetings. Therefore, in the beginning I start with magic shows and then go on to the main subject, trying to take my message across in an entertaining form," said Khan.

According to the madrassa teacher, the area near the Bangladesh border is prone to drug abuse and illicit trafficking. Hundreds of young men and women are addicted to drugs, a habit that eventually hinders the user from being able to lead a normal life. "I'm worried to find many young students have already made it a habit of consuming gutka, bidi, cigarette, liquor, heroin and adhesives," said Khan. "We should save the society by responding to the resolution of the UN General Assembly to observe June 26 as the international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking ( World Drug Day). The problem continues to constitute a serious threat to public health, safety and well-being of humanity, in particular of young people, and the national security and sovereignty of nations. Drug abuse also undermines socio-economic stability and sustainable development," the teacher said.