Bengaluru: Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister Ashwath Narayan has said all schools and colleges in the state will be asked to set up anti-drug panels on the lines of anti-ragging committees.
“We have asked all educational institutions to step up surveillance. We will also be issuing a circular instructing the (school and college) managements to set up anti-drug panels at the earliest,” Narayan told ThePrint.
The decision in this regard comes after the Bengaluru police — during its investigation into an alleged drugs scandal involving the Kannada film industry — found names of a few schools and colleges linked to the racket.
Narayan, who holds the additional portfolio of higher education, said the committees should comprise representatives from the school managements and the administration, as well as parents, police officers and public representatives.
According to the deputy CM, the government has received information that student hostels, canteens and eateries around schools and colleges are being used for drug peddling.
Narayan said the circular, which will be issued to schools and colleges, will have a stern warning, stating that their managements will be held responsible if there are any complaints of drug peddling in their institutions.
“Any such drug ring (found) will be weeded out,” Narayan added.
S. Murugan, Additional Commissioner of Police (Bengaluru East), told ThePrint: “Most of the students accused of peddling or drug abuse are found to be either from other states or college dropouts or foreign national students. Many of them deal with synthetic drugs that are sourced from the dark web.”
Students falling prey to drugs
On 8 September, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Suresh Kumar had said the government suspects that students going to high-profile schools were falling prey to the drug network and many were being lured through food, laced with drugs, being sold outside their school premises.
There have been several complaints by parents on the possible sale of contraband near schools earlier. But the government seems to have got its act together only after the alleged drug scandal came to the fore.
The Central Crime Branch of the Bengaluru Police is investigating several suspects, including the roles of two actresses and a politician’s son, in its probe into the scandal.
Police sources have told ThePrint that a couple of college students, including a third-year BSc student of a prominent Bengaluru college, have already been arrested in connection with the case.
A senior officer told ThePrint that they have advised the government to instruct all educational institutions to ensure that CCTV cameras are set up around the premises to detect any suspicious behaviour, which must be immediately brought to the notice of the anti-drugs panel and the police.
“We also advise parents to keep a close watch on the behavioural pattern of their children,” the officer said.
Steps against drug peddlers, consumers
Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant, who has been leading the probe into the drug scandal, Monday said the department has launched a major crackdown on suppliers, peddlers and consumers of drugs in the city and they will not be spared.
BJP MLC Lehar Singh had on 13 September written to Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, saying Karnataka should become a model state by making its MLAs responsible for any kind of drug network that gets exposed in their respective constituencies.
Meanwhile, experts welcomed the government’s decision to set up anti-drug panels in educational institutions as “school and college population is the one most at risk of developing substance use and abuse”.
“Such panels are two aspects to be addressed — one is reduction of the supply chain of drugs, and the second is that equal focus should be given on reducing demand for drugs as well. We should also teach children that there are other ways of coping with stress than resorting to drugs,” Dr Vivek Benegal, professor of psychiatry, Centre for Addiction Medicine, NIMHANS, told ThePrint.