Mumbai street kids fall prey to drugs

Mumbai street kids fall prey to drugs
Mumbai street kids fall prey to drugsTejas Mehta

Monday, June 5, 2006 (Mumbai):

A large number of street kids in Mumbai are heavily into dope, by chasing, snorting, smoking and injecting.

Many of these children stay doped through the day to hide from the daily run of the city. They have been addicts for years, and some started as early as at the age of eight.

"I take charas, inject myself, and smell the toner solution," an addict said.

"I get a high after taking drugs. I do all sorts of drugs including ‘chasing’. I then feel I am in heaven," said another.

Numbing the pain

Nearly 5,000 street children in Mumbai, aged between eight to 18 say they do drugs to numb their hunger, poverty and sexual abuse.

Most of them have run away from their families or have been abandoned by their parents.

Nearly all of them began with cheap and poisonous chemicals like industrial glue, toner solutions, shoe polish and photocopier ink.

They then moved on to brown sugar, the cheapest and most addictive of drugs.

Drug trail

Most hard drugs are brought into the city by commercial ships. Peddlers then distribute them across the city with networks in slums and kids on the streets.

In return, they give the children free drugs.

"They have no intention to stop taking drugs. It is easy money and they have no families who will ask them to quit. In one day, they spend Rs 200-1,000," said Hasmukh Shah, a member of the NGO Salaam Baalak Trust.

The children say it is their elders who have taught them how to consume drugs.

Many of them are petty thieves who have served sentences in jail. Unfortunately, they are now trapped in the vicious circle of crime because without the money they cannot buy the drugs.

"When I don’t get drugs I start vomiting, get stomach upsets, my eyes and nose starts watering," an addict said.

The addicts are also vulnerable to HIV infections, and are often led to early death.

Caught in a web of peddling and doping, these kids are the unseen faces of India’s drug trade.

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