What should surrendering yaba godfathers do?

Towheed Feroze
Published : 23:59, Jan 29, 2019 | Updated : 17:20, Feb 06, 2019

Towheed FerozeOf late, there has been talk of allowing known yaba godfathers to surrender and admit their transgressions.
Well, what happens after that?
In the long drive to root out yaba from the streets of the capital and many other parts of the country, the focus goes to Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf – the areas near Myanmar from where the pink demon enters Bangladesh.
The media has asked the law enforcers about the surrender strategy and some police officers have reportedly said that even if godfathers surrender they will have to face a legal procedure.
Sorry, but that last part is a bit perplexing. Does this mean that if a drug tycoon surrenders, s/he will have to face a trial?
Or maybe, by surrendering, the drug lords are placing themselves in the hands of the law to ensure that they do not find themselves in a shootout with the police!
There are still plenty of ambiguities relating to the plan allowing drug kingpins to surrender.
Clarify the plan, first
The law needs to clarify the strategy first because yaba is a scourge that affects almost all communities in Bangladesh.
Some have suggested that after placed in police custody, the kingpins may be asked to give a portion of their wealth for the rehabilitation of yaba addicts and for carrying out nation-wide sensitizing programmes.
Many feel that drug king-pins should be placed in front of reporters and TV cameras to give an unreserved apology to the nation and renounce all links to narcotics in a formal ceremony.
And then they should each be given a term to carry out visible social development. This means, building schools, colleges, training facilities and not just places of worship.
What good will this do?
Well, for starters, at least people will get to see the faces of the drug kingpins.
Whatever happens, the financial penalty is a must because as per reports in the media, many in Tenaf and Cox’s Bazaar have become wealthy in a matter of five to ten years just by being involved in the ‘tablet trade’.
The name ‘tablet’ provides social acceptability!
In a Bengali daily, it was found that in Cox’s Bazaar, Teknaf and adjacent areas, the ‘tablet trader’ has social acceptability because the word ‘tablet’ rarely carries a pejorative connotation.
Reportedly, many guardians with marriageable daughters are eager to get a tablet trader young man as a groom since it’s widely known that people in this trade are rarely insolvent.
Funny, no one asks what the tablet is for!
This means that yaba to a large extent is not seen as a damaging drug at all because the word ‘drug’ is hardly associated with it.
Yaba and decaying social ethos
In a predatory society where rapacity rules with many of the old school virtues deemed hollow, yaba and the money that comes from its trade is the gateway to luxury, affluence and social status.
That half educated people in Teknaf and other areas were/are lured by easy money can be accepted since most traders had come from very impoverished backgrounds.
Obviously, when privation is never ending, virtues and morals never seem appealing.
In Cox’s Bazaar, most yaba kingpins were struggling people only ten years ago and, today, their social status is enviable.
Unfortunately, yaba has broken social barriers because from half educated people to even the most educated ones have been found to be involved in its trade.
The reason is simple: fast profit, easy ride to affluence and to hell with conscience.
Perhaps, what is needed first is a move by social scientists to find out and expose how flawed our social creed has become.
The surrendered traders within police custody may not be able to engage in the yaba business anymore but unless they are compelled to go out in public to admit a mistake, the social acceptability of their rise through yaba will not diminish.
The ‘tablet’ has to be taken out so the air of innocence surrounding yaba is shattered.
Reminds one of the time when codeine based cough syrup, Phensedyl, was slowly becoming a popular drug in the early 80s.
At that time, the rise was mainly due to the fact that people in general did not feel a mere cough syrup would create so much harm.
Parents brushed it aside, often feeling a sense of relief that it was not alcohol their son/daughter was addicted to.
Alcohol consumption still carries social stigma, whereas many other forms of addiction are downplayed as mere mischief.
The true extent of Phensedyl’s damage became apparent in the late 90s when a whole generation of youth living near the border areas with India had become useless.
We actually lost the war against the cough syrup because by the time its popularity started to wane, the market was overtaken by yaba.
A social movement on ethics needed
At this point, a long term social campaign is also needed which will try to tackle the mercenary attitude which has insidiously but inexorably crept into our psyche.
Money clouds the senses, the thought of material comfort is of primary importance whereas no questions are asked about the the source of the cash.
A decadent philosophy is at work fuelling a cycle of amorality.
The drug lords who surrender must be made to carry out social sensitization in their areas, help build rehabilitation centres and youth training facilities.
They must also break the fallacy of the ‘tablet’ and play their part in showing the devastating result of widespread yaba addiction.
The government deserves praise for the ongoing drive and hopefully this will continue.
However, there’s no denying that the main lesson has to come from within the family sphere where the law enforcers cannot enter. When a father or mother keeps quiet about sudden surge in the income of their sons or daughters, there is tacit approval for illegal enterprises.
Reckless materialism is bred within the family; no law can tackle that.
Maybe guardians should try to instil that money making has to be within some basic norms.
The impulse to identify and address moral erosion has to come from our own minds.

***The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions and views of Bangla Tribune.