NCPCR representative Dr L Mishra, who is its advisor, guessestimated that the figure of child drug addicts could be as high as 10,000 to 30,000 after his meetings with several State officials and NGOs. He said that he had asked the State to conduct a survey to get a clear picture. He urged the government to immediately notify the State Level Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
Dr Mishra said that Mizoram’s children are in dire need of protection from the evil of drugs, which are easily available and made more accessible by the existence of internet pharmacies which cater to them here.
He was in the city for two days to follow-up on the State Action Plan for implementation of child rights in the Northeastern States during which he had a number of meetings with the officials of various concerned departments and NGOs including the chief secretary. Before Mizoram, he had taken up similar exercises in the states of Assam, Tripura and Manipur.
“When we find that a child of 10 years has started injecting drugs, it is not a good sign for the society as a whole,” he said. He was not really impressed by the fact that there are more than a dozen centres for drug rehabilitation as this only proved the point that addiction is rampant.
He called for more preventive measures to stop children from getting drawn into these habits. “Rehabilitative treatment might not really be the answer to the problem as treatment after addiction has set in is not really a cure,” he said. He urged the State Government to give more emphasis to social counseling, youth and children projects, build on the local strengths such as music and sports, and create more facilities for children.
“Being a hilly State I understand that there is not much space for playgrounds, but the government has to create these facilities for the spirit of the children to grow,” he said.
He said that the sero-positive ratio of children here is also a grey area. The State needs to bring down the incidence of HIV+ rate among child and adolescents. He was told that there are 120 HIV+ kids in different homes.
He was critical of the State Government for hiring 3,000 untrained teachers for the primary schools. Their training should be completed urgently or else the children would suffer. He also asked the State to ensure that the 7,400 drop-outs are back in school. The NCPCR’s role is to ensure that there is no child labour, strict implementation of right to education laws, protect the rights of HIV+ kids and drug users among other child rights issues.