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Drug menace in Punjab

15 Jun


Somewhere Punjab is not only losing its body, but its soul too.  Look at the survey which Punjab government has submitted to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. It reveals 66 per cent of the school-going students in the state consume gutkha or tobacco; every third male and every tenth female student has taken drugs on one pretext or the other. And seven out of 10 college-going students abuse one or the other drug.  Is it the land of opium eaters, consumers of poppy husk or synthetic drugs and pills of all sorts?

These disturbing details were submitted by Mr Harjit Singh, Secretary, Department of Social Security and Women and Child Development, in reply to a petition filed by some drug rehabilitation centres.  The Punjab government admitted, “In the recent times, the amount of narcotic substances seized in the state has also been among the highest in the country”. Only last week the agencies seized over 40 kg heroin worth Rs 40 crore near the border in Punjab.

There are more candid admissions by the Punjab government when it says, “the vibrancy of Punjab is virtually a myth….many sell their blood to procure their daily dose of deadly drugs, even beg on the streets for money to continue their addiction…The entire Punjab is in the grip of drug hurricane which weakens the morale, physique and character of the youth.

We are in the danger of losing the young generation. The vibrant Punjab that had ushered in the Green Revolution is today living in a dazed stupor as 67 per cent of its rural household has at least one drug addict.”  Only 33 per cent of the households have escaped this menace of drug addiction. How long can they escape.

The Punjab government use of alcohol and drugs is now a “part of the Punjabi culture”. No celebration is complete until liquor is served in plenty. However, in the last two decades, the pattern of drug use in the state has undergone a change in favour of new narcotic and synthetic drugs. Now the addicts consume multiple as well as single drugs.

A dear friend, well off connected landlord from Mukatsar, rues his fate as he bemoans the fate of his three young sons, all opium addicts. He knows not what to do as admission to de-addiction centres has been of little help. There are many such sad parents all over the state.

Marriages and other happy occasions only mean free flow of liquor, particularly Indian Made Foreign Liquor. No wonder, Punjab has the highest per capita consumption of liquor and Scotch whisky besides opium and smack. It makes the government earn Rs 1,700 crore. It fills the pockets of the excise officials, drug sellers, peddlers and smugglers besides helping politicians to win elections.

It is part of the international drug racket and helps fund terrorism. Through opium produced in the fields of Afghanistan and other areas and intoxicants they purchase arms and ammunition and destroy countries.

The government also admits that the amount of narcotic substances seized in the state is among the highest in the country. Punjab accounts for roughly over one-fifth of the total recoveries of heroin, the costliest drug.

Opiates, their derivatives and synthetic opiate drugs are used by 70 per cent of the addicts, followed by a combination of opiate and other sedatives, including morphine. The extent of drug addiction in Punjab is 70 per cent. Household survey indicates that there is at least one drug addict in the 65 per cent of families in Majha and Doaba and 64 percent families of Malwa.

The government admits that Tarn Taran, bordering Pakistan is the most affected rural district and Amritsar is the most affected urban district in Punjab. Per head consumption of alcohol is maximum in Punjab and again Tarn Taran district tops the list.  In border areas, the extent of substance abuse is 70-75 per cent in the 15-25 years age group and up to 40 per cent in the 35-60 year age group.  Over 16 per cent population is addicted to hard drugs. Smack is mainly coming in from Pakistan and Nepal, but the regular supply for Punjab comes from Delhi, Meerut, Sardulgarh and J & K.

Drug seizure in Punjab has increased in last three years. The amount of narcotic and psychotropic substances recovered has increased substantially over the last three years. While the quantity of heroin seized has gone up by nearly five times, the quantity of charas recovered is up by 10 per cent. For smack, it is double.

The official data highlights the increase in drug recoveries from 2006 to 2008. Compared to the 53-kg heroin recovered in 2006, the amount seized in 2008 rose to 269 kg. For the same period, the quantity of smack seized increased from 32 kg to 55 kg, while that for charas increased from 98 kg to 110 kg. One of the petitioners, Talwinder Pal Singh, who runs a drug rehabilitation centre in Punjab, had moved the High Court challenging the orders of the Punjab to close down such government-run drug rehabilitation centers.

The government submitted, “Punjab remains vulnerable because of its proximity to the Golden Crescent (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran). Drug traffickers have changed their overland route and narcotics are being transited through India, of which 40 per cent is transited through Punjab alone.”

According to records furnished by the police, narcotic and psychotropic substances like opium, poppy-husk, smack, ganja and charas are smuggled into the state from Rajasthan, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

And, Punjab is the land of gurus and saints. Travel anywhere, rural or urban areas, gurudwaras, mandirs and other places of worship of the almighty dot each nook and corner. There are hundreds of Deras that dispense readymade solutions for the ills of this world.
We have the all-powerful SGPC, the mini Parliament of the Sikhs with a huge budget.

There is, of course, the all mighty Punjab government. Yet, drug addiction, that is destroying the youth, is so rampant  and no serious effort to check at government, religious or social level is visible. Are we losing our moorings?

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