One might think that the Mumbai Police’s Anti Narcotics Cell (ANC) is only about catching drug-peddlers and drug-traffickers. But these days, a team from the ANC has been spreading the message of ‘Say No to Drugs’ in schools and colleges in the city, reaching out to students to raise awareness and educate them about the harmful effects of drugs.
“We go to schools and colleges, and spread awareness about the ill-effects of drug-consumption and addiction. We educate the students and make them more aware and alert,” said Inspector Santosh Bhalekar, who has been involved in arranging these awareness programmes for a couple of years now.
This year, for well over a fortnight, Bhalekar and his team have been to 11 schools and junior colleges, including Siddharth College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Sant Gadge Maharaj College and Chikitsak Samuha Shirolkar High School, among others. The anti-drug awareness session is conducted for high school, junior college and college students.
These sessions begin with ‘The Wrong Turn’ — a short film which depicts how drug abuse cripples the life of its protagonist and is then followed by a talk delivered by a guest speaker to 150-200 students. This year, Bhalekar’s team invited Ramesh Sangle, the founder of Miracle Foundation to share his personal journey – from being an addict to starting his own rehab in Virar.
“Most cases I deal with are of kids who belong to the 12-17 age group. In 10 years, I have worked with at least 50 students who have been victimised directly or indirectly by drug-peddlers,” says Sangle. He tells students that they need to say ‘no’ and should not succumb to peer pressure.
“I knew very little about drugs. This session has opened my eyes and made me more alert,” said Kajol Chawlkar, a Class 10 student at Chikitsak Samuha Shirolkar High School.
“The supply of drugs exists because of the demand created for it and we want to curb that demand. All five units of the ANC (Azad Maidan, Bandra, Worli, Ghatkopar and Kandivali) have conducted successful awareness sessions in more than 50 schools and colleges across Mumbai,” said Shivdeep Lande, Deputy Commissioner of Police, ANC.