Drugs is a word that has defamed this agricultural state of Punjab so much that people across the world, forgetting its rich legacy, have started expressing concern over its ‘sorrowful’ condition. Whether the menace has seriously ruined the state so badly or it’s all a political hype for vested interest is being debated for past couple of years but no conclusion could be made till date.
Previous Punjab government, led by the Shiromani Akali Dal, kept on defending the state’s image against multi-pronged attacks launched by the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party. The Akalis were being directly blamed for being hand-in-glove with the mafia dealing in drugs, especially ‘Chitta’ (white powder).
The Akali leadership, including Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Singh Badal, appealed to the political opponents not to defame Punjab, cautioning that the blot would ultimately affect the whole of the state, including their own wards. Going a step ahead, they also offered the opponents to launch any personal attack against Badal family, if it could serve their purpose.
However, all in vain. Be it the All India Congress Committee vice president Rahul Gandhi or the AAP’s national convener Arvind Kejriwal, no one left any stone unturned in painting Punjab a drugs-affected state, with also ensuring that Non Resident Punjabis across the world look at this state with feelings of fear and hatred if it comes to making a plan to revisit their roots.
Failing to convince opponents who had also hired a huge brigade of technocrats to keep on targeting the state government for ‘proving ineffective’ in checking the drugs menace through social media campaigns, the state government was forced to wage a war against drugs.
On the mission, the major responsibility was put on the Khaki shoulders. If at one hand, the cops were asked to arrest the drug peddlers, on the other they were assigned some moral responsibilities too.
The cops were asked to identify the addicts too. Not enough, they were bound to make them undergo de-addiction and rehabilitation programmes, which was perhaps a more tiresome exercise for the cops as in operation, the cops were bound to provide pick and drop facility too.
With a mission to remove the blot of drugs from the face of the state, the cops held mass contact programmes under which the policemen would not only appeal to the addicts to shun drugs, but also ensure the society accepts them without having any prejudice for their dark past. In the seminars and camps, cops used to be witnessed apprising people of data of persons who have already got treated at different de-addiction centres.
Some of the senior policemen termed the gesture as somewhat akin to the militancy period stating that even at that time police had first curbed terrorism and then those involved were motivated to come back to the mainstream.
After a year, data was compiled that showed that as many 1.15 lakh persons belonging to seven districts of the Malwa region falling under Bathinda zone of Punjab Police undergoing de-addiction treatment since the government waged an intensive ‘war against drugs.’
Though the data was huge enough for the opponents to defame the state, the whole operation again failed to deliver the desired results as the maximum number of such patients was of those who were addict to poppy husk only, followed by opium users. Of the total 1,15,398 such addicts in Bathinda zone, as many as 73,912 were poppy husk consumers, who came forward for de-addiction treatment. Further, thousands of others were those detected to be addicts of opium derivatives.
The government was concerned over the issue of ‘Chitta’ but the number of such addicts was too meagre against the social and political hype. On numerous occasions, data was released. Even state’s erstwhile home minister Sukhbir Singh Badal also went on holding conferences in universities and other platforms to explain the position but hardly anyone paid heed to the appeals. Social media overpowered the state government’s initiatives against the defamation and ultimately the Akalis as well as their Saffron allies were thrown out of the power in recently-held state polls.
Facing a pathetic defeat, for which various reasons played the role including anti-incumbency wave which was obvious for it ruling the state for a decade, the SAD-BJP alliance is now on number three in Vidhan Sabha.
Punjab Congress that was earlier with plagued with infighting is now united. They are in power occupying 77 of the total 117 seats in the state legislative assembly. People have high hopes from Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who during his poll campaign had sworn in the name of God by holding ‘Gutka Sahib’ in hand to remove drugs from the state within four weeks after assuming the office.
Ten days have passed when Capt Amarinder Singh formed the government. Reiterating his promise, he is sounding quite strict over the issue. Capt Amarinder, during a recently-held meeting, has directed the officials to lead from the front and carry out raids under their personal supervision, with a message loud and clear that they would have to eliminate drug and mining mafias within the next four weeks.
All Police Commissioners, Senior Superintendents of Police, Sub-Divisional Police Officers (DSP Sub-Division) and SHOs would be held directly accountable for supply and sale of drugs in their jurisdiction, he had added.
On the parallel, taking his war against the drugs to grassroot level, his party MLAs and others leaders have also started going from village to village telling people that they would not be able to help any of the persons if they were found carrying drugs. Some of the local leaders have even used the speakers of gurdwaras in various villages to make such announcements.
An interesting development came to notice on Saturday when SHO Buta Singh of Lambi police station, a constituency that former CM Parkash Singh Badal represents for decades, administered oath to the whole of his subordinate staff to work against drug mafia with full zeal.
Akali Dal is silent over all these happenings and the masses are excited with an expectation to see some drastic changes in the state.
Amid this breath of fresh air that gives a feel of so far so good, let’s give a long rope to Amarinder government and wait for the results before opining anything good or bad about this much-hyped government operation.
And being a Punjabi, I personally wish this blot gets wiped off as early as possible.
Previous Punjab government, led by Akali Dal, kept on defending state’s image against multi-pronged attacks launched by the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party but social media campaigns foiled the bid.
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