Why Captain Amarinder is finding it difficult to deal with Punjab's drug problem

The Punjab CM wants a 'national policy' to check the smuggling of narcotics across the India-Pakistan border and from neighbouring states.

 |  2-minute read |   20-07-2018
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In the grips of the continuing drug crisis amid mounting deaths of young people from overdosing on heroin and a host of synthetic drugs, Captain Amarinder Singh has now written to home minister Rajnath Singh. The Punjab CM wants a “national policy” to check the smuggling of narcotics across the India-Pakistan border and from neighbouring states.

Warning that the drug problem had put the very future of an entire generation of young Punjabis in serious peril, the CM has sought “active support from the government of India in formulating and pursuing effective measures through a new federal policy to control drug abuse.”

Amarinder told this correspondent in Chandigarh that he’s asking for more effective scrutiny through revamped SOPs for the BSF. The CM is also asking for fresh restrictions and stricter controls on plantations in contiguous states, where controlled cultivation of poppy is permitted.

Punjab Police made massive drug seizures since January, which are already higher than in past years. In his letter to the home minister, Amarinder has complained, “The intelligence gathered by us in this regard is shared with BSF regularly, but unfortunately, smuggling continues unabated to the detriment of our society.”

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In just six months, from January to June this year, the police, Narcotics Control Bureau, BSF and the state’s Special Task Force on drugs have collectively seized 217 kg of heroin. This is significantly higher than the 193 kg recovered through 2017. Even hashish recoveries are up — at 1,817 kg in six months versus 1,916 kg seized last year. Officials say that there is a similar trend in the poppy husk and synthetic narcotics.

Punjab officials say, while the state government has been aggressively cracking down on peddlers and smugglers, as also focusing on deaddiction and rehabilitation of addicts, it was proving to be an impossible task without actively curbing smuggling from Pakistan and neighbouring states.

The CM said, “While we will continue with our efforts to check the menace of drugs, we feel that certain measures need to be taken at the level of Government of India,” Notably, successive governments in Punjab, including the previous Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party regime, had raised similar concerns with Delhi.

Meanwhile, Punjab is also looking to ramp up investigation of NDPS cases (The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act) to improve the conviction rate of smugglers and peddlers. Despite making record drug seizures, the conviction rate has declined from 81.4 per cent in 2015 to 72 per cent last year. Suspects have gone scotfree in more than 700 cases, largely because of shoddy investigation and prosecution.

(Courtesy of Mail Today)

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Asit Jolly Asit Jolly @asitjolly

Journalist with India Today magazine.

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