Arunachal Pradesh: Jongphohate- Scripting Success Against Drug Abuse

  • Tanu Bulo, Arunachal Pradesh

What you see neatly lined up are not artifacts from a museum, although the smoking pipe with its uniqueness and character, deserves a place on an Art Wall.

The smoking pipes on display are a symbolic representation of people’s willingness to forge a new life, by abandoning their harmful old habits.

These bamboo pipes are used by the residents of Jongphohate for consuming opium (locally called Kaani). The pipe consists of Tupaa (the cylindrical shaped bamboo pipe from where one smokes) and Hiita ( circular in shape from where the opium is fed and crushed).  These local names have been derived from the Tikhak sub-tribe of the Tangsa community and may vary among its different sub-categories.

Positive stories continue to emanate from the Changlang District of Arunachal Pradesh. In one such story, Jongphohate village, located under Yatdam Circle has taken the centre stage. The villagers here are spinning their own inspirational stories.

Jongphohate is located 15 kilometres from the district headquarter of Changlang. As per Census 2011, the village has 59 households with only 322 members. The village was once infested with drug addiction problems affecting young and old alike.

Last year a temporary de-addiction centre was established here under Nasha Mukht Bharat Abhiyan (an initiative by the Ministry Of Social Justice and Empowerment) for the benefit of drug addicts. But the turn up was low.

But yesterday on 2nd August, thirty-two villagers voluntarily turned up in the centre and surrendered their smoking pipes in the presence of Changlang district police. The smoking pipes were later burnt in a symbolic act to urge others to follow suit, to lead a reformed life. The villagers further pledged to undergo drug de-addiction as the first batch in the centre.

Impressed by the voluntary people-led initiative,  Changlang District Police donated one carom board to the de-addiction centre, which can be used by the reformers for leisure activity to keep their minds occupied.

Notably, the Narcotics Control Bureau of India had identified 272 vulnerable districts across the country affected by substance abuse. This includes 8 districts of Arunachal namely- Changlang, Lohit, Dibang Valley, Upper Siang, Anjaw, Namsai, Tirap, and West Kameng.

Surely, this inspiring story of Jongphohate village will give an impetus to the State Government’s fight against the drug menace. In its latest endeavour against narcotic drugs, the State cabinet had approved Psychotropic Substance Policy (2021-2026) which is based on 3 pillars of Supply, Demand, and Harm Reduction. Success stories against the drug menace can only be scripted if the government and the common people work hand in hand.