No cure for Punjab's drug problem

From leading politicians to the Chief Election Commissioner to the Sikh’s mini-parliament, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, everyone expresses concern over the growing menace of drug abuse in Punjab but no one really suggests the cure.

The state, which is the food bowl of the country as it contributes over 60 per cent of grains (wheat and paddy) to the national kitty, has a widespread problem of drugs especially among youth.An earlier study by researchers at Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar, 250 km from here, estimated that “73.5 per cent of youth between 16 and 35 years are addicted to drugs.”

In the last couple of months, security agencies in Punjab have recovered nearly 75 kg of heroin, a high-end drug, worth over Rs 350 crore in the international market, said a Punjab police official. Heroin is smuggled mainly through the Afgha -nistan-Pakistan route, said an official from state anti-narcotics department.

“We have encountered the problem of liquor during elections in almost all states. But drug abuse is unique only to Punjab,” CEC S Y Qureshi said during the run up to the Jan 30  Assembly polls in the state.

State anti-narcotics department revealed that five weeks from the January polls, various agencies recovered nearly 50 kg of heroin apart from huge amount of unaccounted cash and illicit liquor. Punjab had accounted for 60 per cent of the total drugs seized in the country in 2010-11, it added.

High seizureThe total drug seizure in the state in recent years is higher with multiple agencies like the Border Security Force, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, customs department, the anti-narcotics cell of Punjab police and others involved in the recovery process.

In an address on internal security in New Delhi last year, Sukhbir Badal asserted that the narco-terrorist threat was looming over Punjab. 

“Seizures and arrests by security agencies have shown links between narcotics smugglers and terrorists in some cases,” he said.

At various religious congregations and small functions at gurdwaras, one common issue highlighted by speakers is the growing drug menace. While the concern is expressed, no one seems to know the cure.

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