Coordinated initiatives required to protect youth from yaba
The word 'Yaba' meaning 'crazy medicine' is a Thai word. Yaba is a round pill, bright red, orange or lime green in colour and carry the sign such as 'R' or 'WY'. Each pill is small, roughly six millimeters in diameter, and easily transportable.
There are many different ways to inhale the drug, including fashioning water funnels, called turbo, out of empty water/glass bottles attached to straws and aluminium foil. The most common method of using yaba is oral ingestion. Tablets can also be crushed into a powder either snorted or mixed with a liquid and tehn injected.
In addition, tablets can be heated on aluminium foil to produce a vapour to be inhaled. The smuggling of yaba tablets from Myanmar in recent years has become another serious threat to the younger generation of Bangladesh. It is a highly addictive mixture of methamphetamine and caffeine known as 'Nazi speed' in the West. It was first developed by Hitler's scientists to keep soldiers capable of fighting for days at a stretch. It entered the Bangladeshi market in 2006 as a 'fashionable drug' for the well-to-do people.
Today yaba tablets are getting increasingly popular among young people all over the world including Bangladesh. The government needs to realise the matter that our young generation are gradually ruining themselves as well as their families and the whole nation. Now Bangladesh is a safe route for yaba drug dealers because the country has been illegally used as a transit point for trafficking yaba in many Southeast Asian markets. Most of the yaba comes from neighbouring country Myanmar and also Laos. Yaba tablets are trafficked and smuggled into Bangladesh through vast border areas, water-ways and air-ways.
The drug is being trafficked to outside developed world through roadways and ships. Among the trafficking routes to Bangladesh, the vast forests and terrain areas of hill tracts and the Bangladeshi, Myanmar and Thai fishing trawlers are being used for trafficking the drug to Bangladesh. Considering land route unsafe, organised gangs of drug smugglers are now using water and air routes for trafficking deadly drugs, newspaper sources.
Bangladesh is currently emerging as one of the leading drug consumption country. Two potential factors are contributing to the growing trend of drug consumption. First, the illegal dishonest connection at law order forces with smugglers and second, the geographical position of Bangladesh, which is very suitable for drug dealers to be the country for international route. According to research, almost fifty routes at the borders in our country are being used for the drugs to enter. They are Golden Triangle, Golden Wage and Golden Crescent, hence, Bangladesh has become a primary choice for international drug dealers. The drug cartels smuggle amphetamines into Bangladesh from Burma and India, and supply them to different parts of the country using a strong chain of dealers.
The international drug syndicates use Bangladesh as a transit country to move narcotics from Burma to different destinations. A sector of dishonest traders and international gangs are involved in illegal yaba drug peddling. They employ young boys and girls, mostly students to conduct their business.
In recent times, yaba tablets are also being manufactured at home. Many drug addicts now prefer yaba tables to other types of drugs because of their stimulating effects and increasing availability in the country. Yaba tablets were first brought to Bangladesh from Chiang Mai, the northern city of Thailand in 1990, but trading of the drug started to spread in 2000 due to a lack of law enforcement by the authorities concerned. In 2011, yaba consumption was made fashionable by and for the affluent individuals in the society. A series of highly publicised drug raids in 2007 by authorities implicated the involvement of some well known business people.
The presence of yaba manufacturing labs along the porous border of the southeastern part of the country has accelerated the use of the drug at an alarming rate. Law enforcement agencies seized 129,644 yaba pills in 2009. This increased to 19.5 million in 2015. The seizure of yaba tablets tripled in 2015 as compared to the previous year. In January 2016, Bangladesh police seized 2.8 million yaba tablets, with an estimated value of USD 10.5 million. But, despite the increasing amounts of seizures by the law enforcement agencies, the supply of a wide variety of yaba tablets to the underground market continues unabated.
As a result of the organised transit trafficking, coupled with the supply of Indian, Burmese and Pakistani drugs into Bangladesh, drug addiction has reached an alarming rate in the country. The Bangladesh Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) in its Annual Drug Report of Bangladesh 2013 revealed that the country had about five million addicts, 50 percent of them located in Dhaka city alone. Bangladesh stands eighth among the world's top 10 drug abusing countries.
An internal security report revealed that the yaba flooded the country due to lax security. A large number of women, student, and teens are also involved with the selling of the drug. Various types with different prices of yaba are available in the country. A yaba tablet is currently sold at anything between Tk 250 and Tk 350, depending on its type. Due to the wide availability of the sexually arousing tablets, youths are becoming highly addicted to it.
Consequently, they are falling prey to serious physical and psychological health hazards and being affected by different complex diseases like kidney and liver infection, sleeping problems and lower back pain etc. Hair loss can also be an indicator of a long term user, either as a direct result of the drug intake, or indirectly through the user becoming withdrawn and anxious and contracting behavioural habits, such as hair pulling.
The yaba drug is increasingly posing a great threat to the valuable lives of our young generation. They are being completely manipulated and exploited through this drug. To save our young generations, our future leaders, the government needs to focus on the steps through which the accessibility of the drug to young people can be zeroed. Recently, leading news weekly reported that 50 doctors of a reputable medical university were addicted to various drugs.
They were addicted to cannabis, heroin, phensedyl, cocaine, ecstasy, yaba, and crystal meth. Many of them stole painkillers, including morphine and sleeping pills, reserved for patients. In an attempt to stop this, the university authority introduced drug tests for doctors after allegations of this rampant narcotics abuse came to light. Addiction, with all its pervasive impacts, including making young people psychologically and physically crippled, often leads to violent behaviour. They often resort to crime to sustain their addiction. Thus, when many anti-narcotics bodies observe June 26 as the UN Day for combating harmful drugs, the battle against addiction continues to be a major challenge.
In order to achieve this, the government has to ensure a strong grip of law and order and security forces across the borders so that illegal drugs cannot enter into our country so easily. Upon catching the traders involved in drug trafficking, punishment of the highest order needs to be handed over.
Within the country, police and other state security forces should perform their role much more honestly to wipe out different drug selling and consumption spots. State security forces must be mobilized to conduct undercover operations and frequent raids for arresting the criminals red-handed. No favoritism or leniency should be shown to individuals caught with drug dealing due to political linkages or because of their economic power. People in general should also be highly conscious about yaba, spread the awareness and raise a unique voice against it.
-The writer is a columnist.