The Parvati valley is a natural wonder because of its breathtaking scenery, big green cedar trees, and intriguing riverbed that is encircled by towering mountain peaks. Yet it also has a negative aspect. This region, known for its seedy drug culture, saw the disappearance of several young international and Indian tourists.
The statistics are startling. The most recent example is a visitor from Ghaziabad, near Delhi, who is 27 years old. After attending a New Year’s Eve party, he vanished on December 31. His body was found after a 35-day search thanks to an SIT that Director General of Police Sanjay Kundu established.
The young person and many other travellers had come to Kasol to celebrate the New Year. He stopped talking to his family members after that. In addition, the father offered a reward of Rs. 5 lakhs to anyone who could help locate his kid.
The family was devastated when the police discovered his decaying body, which was the ultimate shock.
“The police are still awaiting a post-mortem report and can’t presume death is linked to narcotics,” said Superintendent of Police Kullu Sakshi Verma. The family is waiting for answers and has a different perspective on the youth’s passing.
According to the government data, 21 foreigners were among the 1078 people who went missing in the Parvati valley between 2003 and 2023. Only 498 of them were able to be located. In the Parvati valley, cases of fatalities and disappearances are still shrouded in mystery.
The number of foreign and local tourists who have vanished in the valley has steadily increased, with the exception of the Covid-19 period, when only a few people are said to have gone missing.
But, the reality is that the authorities are having a difficult time controlling the drug problem in Kullu, where copious amounts of heroin and other illegal substances are being seized every day.
The author of the book “High On Kasol,” Aditya Kant Sharma, stated that “the drug angle is undoubtedly a ground fact, albeit circumstances in each instance may differ.” The book is based on enigmatic tales about the disappearances of foreigners and Indians.
The book, which bears the name of a village in the Parvati Valley and was written by former governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar, who is now governor of Bihar, attempts to explain the evolving patterns of drug use and trafficking that are having an impact on the lives of young people in the hill state.
The former governor wanted a crackdown to prevent “dev Bhoomi” from turning into a “nasha-Bhoomi” by going public with his native state of Goa’s drug problem.
The local youngsters who lack employment view human trafficking as a lucrative business, and the majority go on to develop addictions as a result. Now “Chitta” (a heroin derivative) has become a new threat, families are finding it increasingly difficult to keep their sons and daughters away from drugs.
Yet, it is becoming a commonplace practise in the Parvati valley and the surrounding Malana to grow marijuana and use it for charas as a source of income. For numerous families, it is also a tale of rags to riches as they turn their stolen funds into beautiful homes and hotels as well as automobiles.
Across party lines, the Kullu MPs are now pleading with the government to legalise cannabis farming. A decision has not yet been made by the government.
He claims that around 20 foreign nationals have vanished in the Kullu valley during the past 20 years. He thinks the most of these are related to drug use.
Russian national Kesternov Vladislov vanished from Kasol in May 2011. A gorge between Rasol and Chhalal was where his body was discovered a few days later.
Australian Oddette Victoria Ann Houghton vanished in Manikaran Valley in August 1991. One of the first cases of missing foreign nationals involved this.
The most shocking example of a lost foreigner was that of US citizen and expert hiker Justin Alexander Shetler. He disappeared from the Manikaran Valley. Police searches for him were unsuccessful.
His mother, who had come to Manali to look for her son, even met with the then-chief minister Virbhadra Singh to request assistance from the government apparatus and to enlist the aid of the US Embassy in Delhi. Also, she hired a private helicopter for an aerial search, but it was fruitless.
In 2015, the 24-year-old Polish national Bruno Mushchalik’s disappearance received a lot of media attention. His father Piotr Mushchalik filed a petition with the Himachal Pradesh High Court requesting the formation of a Special Investigation Team (SIT). In addition, he had promised a reward of Rs. 1.5 lakh for finding his son.
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