A board installed by the police at the entry of Daulewala village in Moga reads, “It is the village infamous for drug smugglers. Every person going to Daulewala will be under scanner of police.”
And, in a further attempt to create fear among drug peddlers, the police have even made a false claim on the board, that hidden CCTV (closedcircuit television) cameras have been installed inside the village to keep a check. Everyone here knows the police are in a showoff overdrive.
The brutal stereotyping comes on the back of claims of huge raids, even though the recovery of drugs from Dualewala and two other such villages was not unusually high.
The police action’s timing and manner raise further questions. But, to sell the bloated image, three villages in the region were put under siege before the raids and the claims conveniently provided to the media.
Besides Daulewala, Bir Talab on the outskirts of Bathinda and Seerwali, 18km from Muktsar, were showcased by the police as “drug problem villages”.
However, the police did not even plan the raids simultaneously. It is worth a mention here that two constables have been suspended by the Moga police in the past week for conniving with drug peddlers.
The raids are part of a pattern. May 20 onwards, Punjab police have suddenly started working enthusiastically on the drug issue after the Lok Sabha election results in which the drug menace emerged as the core issue.
In Bathinda police range alone, 4,000 cases under the anti-narcotics law have been registered and the same number of smugglers arrested. Some of the cases have been registered despite there being no recovery of drugs from the accused.
The police were embarrassed in Moga after Satnam Singh, 41, a local Akali leader’s son, was arrested for drug smuggling.
Constable Pyara Singh, 52, was found leaking information of a raid to peddlers. It could not be known whom Pyara had called, but sources said the peddler on the other side of the phone was a woman still being protected by an influential political leader.
‘HURDLE IN NEW LIFE’
Daulewala , 17km from Moga, is indeed known for drug peddling, but police have made it ‘official’ without explaining steps, if any, taken in the past to rid the village of this menace.
Former Moga district Cong ress president Dr Tara Singh Sandhu remarked, “First, the police should gain enough confidence to claim that these raids are not part of any political design.
When the police have been forced to suspend two constables over peddling allegations in the last one week, what moral authority do they have to install a board outside a village declaring it a base of drug peddlers?”
Bir Talab was already trying to recover from an age-old image when the police suddenly raided the village on Sunday and then worked on strengthening that negative image.
Activist Sukhwinder Sukha, 35, who had formed an ‘action committee’ three years ago to tackle the drug menace in the village, said, “We were surprised by the sudden raid.
The village has now recovered from the drug problem to a large extent. Most of the peddlers left the village long ago, and they never came back.”
He added, “I am afraid the police have re gistered cases against some former peddlers who were trying to leave behind their past and start a new life. Surely, tackling the menace as such was not the reason behind these raids.”
“Who will believe Daulewala or any other village developed as a haven of drugs without information to police? Were no high officials of the police informed about the state of these villages all these years?” asked Sandhu. The question resonates across the region, and the stereotyping could only make it worse.