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Drugs spreading among street children

DHAKA, May 12, 2018 (BSS/UNICEF FEATURE)- With the night was growing gradually, the hustle-bustle Rajshahi city was becoming calm and quite. Tired and exhausted city dwellers were preparing to rest.

It was around midnight as the night guards were patrolling the streets, three children, aged between seven and 10, were seen busy to collect polythene at Rajshahi railway station.

They were roaming around the tea-stalls and looking for polythenes left out by the customers and the shop owners. They succeeded to collect it within few moments.

Taking these polythenes they went to a dark corner of the railway station and sat on the floor in a round shape with some other children, who were waiting there. Approaching to near them, the correspondent found they were inhaling something from these polythene bags.

All the children, numbering around seven to eight, felt so much disturbed as a stranger approached to them and were trying to talk with them. After building rapport, the correspondent started talking to the children to know about their activities.

As a collective initiative, they altogether buy glue (solutions) from a sanitary or stationary shop. The glue is normally used to repair or join leather or wooden goods. They pour the glue into the polythenes and sniff the vapour from inside the polythene bag. This is popularly known as 'Dandy'.

The polybags are being passed from one's hand to another. The process of inhaling and exhaling vapour continues until the glue ends.

Sniffing glues is one of the favourite narcotics item to them because it is available and cheaper, said Sharif Hossain, around 10-year old boy, a member of the glue sniffing team there.

After completion of the sniffing glue, the children started behaving abnormally. They were laughing loudly, scuffling one-another, using abusive language and so on.

"We are flying on the sky. We will now do everything as we wish," said Anwar Hossain, a 10-year boy.

Anwar, hailing from a nearby district Noagoan, came to Rajshahi town around one year ago for employment. Initially, he started working at a restaurant as a cleaner. But he was terminated around six months ago following an allegation over stealing money from the restaurant.

Later, he started collecting wastes and garbage from streets, dustbins, railway and bus stations and from other places.

While continuing this job, he came to be introduced to Shariful Islam, a boy of almost same age, who later connected Anwar to this gang.

"Now we take Dandy regularly. It makes good feelings inside us. If we fail to take it a day, our body feels different types of trouble," said Sharif Hossain, who has been taking Dandy for around one year.

Not only Anwar and Sharif, but also dozens of children are getting addicted to Dandy in Rajshahi city.

There are around 6,000 street children in Rajshahi city. Most of them take different kind of drugs, according to a study of Association for Community Development (ACD) that works community development at Rajshahi region.

The association officials sought for necessary action of administration and authorities concerned to prevent the children from being drug addicted.

Manzur Quader, district Children Affairs Officer in Rajshahi, said they were conducting programme to rehabilitate the street children and to bring back them in normal life from being addicted.

Many children from slums of Shaheb Bazar, Bhodra, Boharampur and nearby areas have already been rehabilitated through Shishu Bikash Kendra (SBK), he added.

Talking to the correspondent, Lutfar Rahman, deputy director of Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) at Rajshahi region, said they are working wipe out drug material from market so that children cannot get it available.

He also stressed the need for public awareness to protect children from being addicted.

Dr Mahbubur Rahman of Medicine Department of Rajshahi Medical College Hospital, said children's kidney, lung and other parts of body can severely be damaged due to taking drugs.

He stressed the need for launching social movement to prevent the nuisance.