"My boyfriend and I have been addicted to drugs and alcohol. He used to assault me for cash to fuel his habits. Once, I borrowed R5,000 from a friend. She suggested I get into prostitution to get more cash. I was desperate and agreed. I would reach a lodge or an office as instructed by friends and would be paid Rs 5,000 per person. My boyfriend's increasing demand for money forced me to work as a call girl," wrote a Bandra collegian.
"I smoked up all kinds of drugs, including marijuana and hashish. I was in the third year of a diploma at a Thane polytechnic. Addiction was very common there... we had a dum (smoke) shed and many others. Because I didn't want my parents to know what I was up to, I would go home only once in 15 days, sleeping in the house of a woman in Kolshewadi, a jaunt for hungover girls. We would all pass out and wake up the next day with no idea of what had happened to us the previous night," wrote the teenaged daughter of railway policeman.
"I wish I had listened to my parents and studied hard...then I wouldn't have fallen in this trap. I would roam around with addicts, all boys, who would threaten me to bring cash from home. I would comply and we would spend all that money on drugs and smoke up," wrote a Std IX dropout, a Kalyan resident, whose father is superintendent of customs.
These are some of the letters the Thane police received.
The Disha Samajik Seva Sansthan along with the Anjuman Foundation in Kalyan has started a de-addiction initiative along with the police under the guidance of Param Bir Singh, commissioner of police, Thane.
President of the Sansthan Rajendra Kurade, 45, who has his rehabilitation centre on the Kalyan-Murbad Road, said, "In June, an addict approached us for rehabilitation. After we questioned the girl, she revealed how more and more school and college students were becoming drug addicts, with the girls taking to prostitution to fund the habit."
"As a quick measure, we approached the deputy commissioner of police, Kalyan, Dr Sanjay Shinde, and discussed about the menace. It happened to be anti-narcotics week; so, we started awareness programmes in various schools and colleges and got a good response," said Azam Shaikh, president of the Anjuman Foundation.
Shinde said awareness programmes were conducted in 90-odd schools and colleges in Kalyan and Dombivli. "All were done in the last two months. The programmes were conducted to reach out to the masses and alert parents. Only police can't curb addiction, we need the support of the public and parents," he added.
"It's narco-terrorism - first, a youngster is lured into the addiction trap, and later, the money that keeps coming into this network is used for terror activities. It's important for all of us to work together to de-addict youngsters and steer them towards education."
Kurade said he received more than 25 letters from addicted students seeking rehabilitation. "We got names of nearly 450 boys and girls who were victims of substance abuse. The anti-human trafficking cell of Thane Crime Branch also visited the rehab centre to get details about the prostitution rings and those pushed into it," he said.
The Disha Sansthan's Nalini Patil and Anjuman's Firdaus Shaikh are the counsellors who usually speak to the girls addicted to drugs.
Shaikh said the sister of the Std IX dropout studies in a Kalyan college. "After we conducted a programme in her college, she realised that her brother had been showing a lot of the symptoms of an addict, and she approached us. We got her brother admitted 20 days ago. He said his addict friends used his bike to rob people near the MIDC Manpada area for money to buy drugs," she added.
Revealing there are many like the Bandra collegian forced into flesh trade, Kurade said, "Girls' photos are circulated on WhatsApp to solicit clients, which include politicians and businessmen. Teenage girls are high in demand and are paid Rs 5,000, while the agent takes almost Rs 10,000."
Number of youngsters' names got by the NGO
Schools and colleges in Kalyan-Dombivli where awareness programmes were held
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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