Drug menace reached alarming proportions in Punjab

Drug menace reached alarming proportions in Punjab

Drug menace in Punjab reached alarming proportions in 2014, even becoming a key poll issue and engaged the Opposition Congress and the SAD-BJP government in a bitter war of words throughout the year.

While Congress accused the SAD-BJP government of indulging in "patronising drug suppliers", the ruling dispensation rejected these charges, vowing to eliminate drug abuse from the state.

How serious the drug problem in the state can be gauged from the fact that drugs, liquor and other narcotics worth Rs 800 crore were seized from Punjab by poll authorities ahead of Lok Sabha polls.

Narendra Modi in his first election rally at Pathankot in April spoke of the drugs problem, saying the country's enemies now resorted to "narco terrorism" route as part of their nefarious designs to destroy youth.

"Every mother, especially every mother of Punjab is worried that her son may get addicted," he had then said referring to the drug menace in the state.

Modi had even promised voters to put a lid on the drugs being pushed into Indian territory from across the border if BJP-led government came at the Centre.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi took on SAD-BJP led regime, charging the Akali regime with indulging in illegal activities including drug smuggling, sand mining etc.

She further accused the Punjab government of failing in curbing "growing drug" menace in state, saying drugs were destroying youth in the state.

Facing "vitriolic" attack from several quarters on drug issue, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal announced the launch of an elaborate anti-drug drive and crackdown against the drug abuse.

Simultaneously, the state government also announced massive programme of drug de-addiction in the state and free medicines to drug-addicted youths in these centres.
As part of measures to control flow of drugs, a 'Punjab State Narcotics Control Bureau' was also set up which was headed by Inspector General of Police (IGP).

Badal promised to take action against any politician involved in drug trade.
Senior Akali leader and state minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur had to even resign on moral grounds when his son's name figured in drug trade in May.

Alliance partner BJP said drug menace, among other issues such as property tax, VAT refund, rising prices of sand and gravel in the state was a reason that led to SAD-BJP's "below expectation" Lok Sabha results in Punjab.

Despite sentiments in favour of BJP at the national level, the SAD-BJP alliance could win just six of the 13 seats in Punjab while senior BJP Arun Jaitley lost to Amarinder Singh from Amritsar.

Singh also called for formation of a National Drug Policy to "comprehensively" address the problem of drug addiction across the country and Punjab in particular, saying where the problem is "assuming dangerous propositions".

The state's anti-drug drive, however, earned the wrath of chemists and drug shop owners who even shut down their shops in protest against the alleged harassment caused by state police in its state-wide drive against drug menace.

In the state Assembly in July, Congress even tried to maintain pressure on Akali regime on drug issue and sought white paper from the state government pertaining to cases registered against drug smugglers.

The Opposition party was up in arms against SAD-BJP regime when it accused the state government of muzzling its voice by deliberately dragging the name of Congress MLA from Gidderbaha Amarinder Singh Raja Warring in a drug racket.

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal said in the assembly that the state government never indulged in political vendetta.

In a drive against drugs, Punjab government seized several types of drugs including heroin, opium, poppy husk, synthetic drugs from smugglers in the state, saying these come from other states.

With the government contending that the state was used as transit point for supplying drugs like heroin to other states, Punjab Police arrested 10,538 persons till July as against arrest of 16,821 persons in 2013 under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

Besides other drugs, it also seized 382.84 kg of heroin and 1212 kg of mixture to make methamphetamine (synthetic drug) till July.

The conviction rate under NDPS Act filed against accused by Punjab police rose from 70.8 per cent in year 2010 to 80.5 per cent in 2013, it said.

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