PERSPECTIVE
High on atmospherics
Punjab's drug problem needs a sober, well thought out strategy
- VIPIN PUBBY
Punjab's drug problem needs a sober, well thought out strategy



DURING THE CAMPAIGN for the Punjab Assembly elections last year, Amarinder Singh, then the Congress’s chief ministerial candidate, had pledged to eradicate the State’s drug problem within four weeks of coming to power. Given the complexity of the issue, hardly anyone took his pledge seriously but it did convey his concern. After coming to power, Capt. Singh took little time to set up a Special Task Force (STF) to tackle the problem. The STF claimed to have arrested about 15,000 drug peddlers. It also claimed that the supply line of drugs had been choked.
 
Cascading problems 
However, with the tightening of supply chains, many turned to cheaper and spurious drugs. The last one month witnessed a spurt in deaths due to overdose or usage of spurious drugs. Although the government maintains that there were only two such incidents, the local media reported over 25 deaths during the period. The subsequent outcry has triggered knee-jerk reactions by the State government.

The Punjab Cabinet has asked the Centre to amend the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985 to include the death penalty for even first-time offenders. It followed this up with a declaration that all 3.4 lakh government employees would have to undergo a dope test.
 
The recommendation of the death penalty for first-time offenders in NDPS cases is a dangerous overreaction. Currently there are about 15,000 convicts and undertrials in jails. Most have been booked for carrying minuscule quantities of drugs or banned substances. Besides, the courts have already described as unconstitutional an amendment introduced in 2001 providing death penalty for repeat offenders under the NDPS Act. The Act was amended in 2014 to remove the provision.
------
Punjab needs a sober, well-thought-out strategy to deal with drug abuse
------ 
Even before the ink dried on the proposal sent to the Centre, the State government came out with the absurd announcement that all its employees would be put through a dope test. This degenerated into a farce when demands were put forth to the Cabinet, including the Chief Minister, through a dope test.

For one, the test cannot establish whether a person is an addict or not. The test can only confirm the presence of narcotics in samples. For instance, a regular user of heroin may test negative if he or she has abstained for three-four days. In any case, there has never been any allegation that a significant number of government employees are drug addicts.

The government is clearly aiming at the wrong target. It is well-known that the vast majority of drug addicts are unemployed youth. It is this segment of youth who need to be targeted for proactive and preventive measures.
 
This can be done by involving volunteers and elders from localities and villages. Families and teachers need to be put through counselling to identify potential victims and to watch for early signs of trouble. Such action requires an understanding of the situation, sincerity and patience.
------
The previous Akali Dal-led government remained in denial, claiming that Punjab’s youth were being "defamed”. Now in the Opposition, the party is blaming the Congress government for its failure to contain the problem.
------
Need for a survey 
Shockingly, for a State that is well-known for substance abuse, there is no empirical study on the extent of the problem. The previous Akali Dal-led government remained in denial, claiming that Punjab’s youth were being "defamed”. Now in the Opposition, the party is blaming the Congress government for its failure to contain the problem. Some surveys have been conducted with small sample sizes. What is needed is an extensive survey and a well-thought-out strategy to tackle the problem. 
 
 
The problem also lies in the poor handling of drug-related cases by police and prosecution agencies. This was brought to the notice of Capt. Singh by a High Court judge last week when he was appearing in an election-related case. The judge said she would take the opportunity of the presence of the Chief Minister in the court to point out that challans were being presented in drug cases even when crucial forensic reports were pending, and added that false drug cases were on the rise. An embarrassed Chief Minister said he would personally look into the issue.

Punjab has gone through several periods of crisis, including militancy during the 1980s and 1990s when thousands of lives were lost, and is currently in danger of losing too many youngsters to drugs. It requires sensitive handling rather than knee-jerk reactions which can be counterproductive.
 

 

 

 

 

*(The author, a freelance journalist, is a former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Chandigarh, and reported on the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, North-Eastern India, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in his long, illustrious career. This article was also published by The Hindu and is being reproduced here with the due permission of the author. - Ed)

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles: 

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

DEATH EMBRACING LOGIC: Drugs in Punjab

WHO WAS FIRST BJP PRIME MINISTER?

PANJAB'S EMERGENCY: FORMAL AND INFORMAL

THE KASHMIR GOVERNOR, THE TRIBUNE TRUST & ETHICS - How Journalism Fails Readers?

"Congress Sikhan Di Dushman Jamaat Hai?” —Akalis need to dump broken record, shift gears

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

SARKAR IN MANALI: From Shahkot to Mohali Court, Sara Alam Bigrra Jaye

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

SIKHS & FEMINISTS – We hailed Harjit Sajjan; they didn’t hail Gina Haspel

AFTER BEING RAPED, I WAS WOUNDED; MY HONOUR WAS NOT

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WE MISSED A REVOLUTION, BUT CAN IT STILL BE A GAME CHANGER?

A POLITICIAN SPEAKS – YOU SHOULD HEAR

ENCOUNTER, JULOOS & SELFIES

SOWING ANGER - NO QUICK FIX - Democracy is an Empty Ritual in Punjab

OUT-OF-BOX SOLUTION TO STOP FARMERS' SUICIDES

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

'THORRI BAHUTI EHNA NU SHARAM AUNI CHAHEEDI HAI'

ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON SUICIDE-HIT BATS FOR AARHTIYAS

RANGROOT OFFERS A PEEK INTO PUNJAB'S TRAGEDY

WHAT MAKE NEWS IN INDIA, AND WHAT DOES NOT?

HITLER, MODI & GANDHI: ON THE SAME PAGE?

PUNJAB IS STILL VERY FAR FROM INDIA

APOLOGY – AKALIS BIG LOSER, CONG TOO 

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

SUPER EFFICIENCY ONBOARD CM’S CHOPPER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties: The Coordinated Silence of Amarinder Singh & Badals

PM MODI VINDICATES PUNJAB TODAY REPORTAGE

NEW DELHI V/S OTTAWA — WILL QUEBEC DEFEAT INDIA?        

A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA - Trudeau came to Punjab, pushed Amarinder closer to BJP, then called him a liar

JASPAL ATWAL CONTROVERSY: Mr. Ujjal, will you throw some light on this too?   

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE

J&K – RAM MADHAV LEAVES SPACE FOR MEHBOOBA’S POLITICS

SHEKHAR GUPTA'S HALF-BAKED TRUTHS 

OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES - Karze Ne Layee Ikk Hor Kisan Di Jaan...

PNB Scam: Who is Nirav Choksi and what he is doing In the name of God?

Congress upset due to Priyanka’s cleavage on calendar 

RENUKA'S LAUGHTER: Thank you for your guffaws. We needed this non-violent weapon.

MR CLEAN to PAKKE DHEETH: How Punjab’s Congress hurt Brand Rahul Gandhi? 

MANJIT SINGH CALCUTTA– THE DISSENTER

PUNJAB FARMERS AND IPL CRICKETERS - Finally, they can stand like equals

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION. My teacher is not alive, but you please call it off!

SUKHBIR IS RIGHT – On 97th anniversary  Panth Khatre Vich Hai. Where does this threat come from?

THE FINAL HONESTY CERTIFICATE: ISSUED BY THE TRIBUNE

NO TIME TO READ THIS STORY? – That’s OK - Please do not feel guilty 

BAD, BAD WOMAN! – Punjab’s top playwright slams woman complainant against Langah

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL – On Amod Kanth’s badge of shame

RELAX! ALL 30 WERE DERA PREMIS – Panchkula says something stinking about its conscience

PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: Punjab, more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from modernity

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT


 

 







Comment

your name*

email address*

comments*
You may use these HTML tags:<p> <u> <i> <b> <strong> <del> <code> <hr> <em> <ul> <li> <ol> <span> <div>

verification code*
 







MOST VISITED
YOU MAY LIKE

TOPIC CLOUD

TAGS CLOUD

ARCHIVE



Copyright © 2016-2017







NEWS LETTER