North India's Heroin Epidemic

The Indian border with Pakistan, specifically the northern most states of Punjab and Kashmir, has been ravaged by heroin addiction, and the situation is worsening. The bulk of the heroin has been flowing out of Afghanistan, the result of instability following the American invasion of that country in 2001.

The threat to India is dire: As many as 70 percent of Punjabi males between the ages of 16 and 35 living in Amritsar are allegedly addicted. In Kashmir, official numbers haven't been taken, but it’s well known among residents that the issue is severe, and that the psychological pressures of living in a conflict zone are often self-medicated though opiates.

The government of Punjab has created a plan called Operation Clean, one that initiated 100 drug arrests per day, but critics claim that this plan is treating the symptoms instead of the cause—the persistent flow of heroin across borders. In Kashmir, little has been done outside of Islamic community organizations, and the rate of HIV/AIDS is skyrocketing in both regions.

Journalist Michael Edison Hayden and photographer Sami Siva follow the rise of addition from the capital city of Delhi to these troubled border communities to report on efforts to stem the tide of drug addiction and related dangers of HIV/AIDS.