The Punjab police have arrested 12,695 persons in the last eight months and registered 10,830 first information reports (FIRs) under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, as part of a drive against drug abuse.
The information was submitted in the Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday during the resumed hearing of the case in which former Punjab director general of police (DGP), prisons, Shashi Kant’s petition — blaming ‘narco politics’ for the rampant drug menace in Punjab — was treated as a public interest litigation.
Dwelling further on the data, it was informed that 7,938 persons of the total were arrested and 7,014 FIRs registered in just 122 days in a special drive launched from May 20. Also, 925 persons among these were arrested under section 27 of NDPS Act (consumption of narcotic drugs).
The division bench comprising acting chief justice Ashutosh Mohunta and justice HS Sidhu has now directed the Punjab advocate general Ashok Aggarwal “to place on record all the status reports which had been filed from time to time” on the next date of hearing on November 27.
The directions were issued because the status reports had been filed in sealed covers earlier by the Punjab police before the division bench headed by the then chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul; and since those reports had been returned, the judges sitting in the division bench now hearing the case had not gone through those reports.
Balkar Singh Sidhu, deputy inspector general of police (DIG), administration, informed the court through his affidavit that as a result of focus on street drug peddling, in 2014 till date 20.95 lakh capsules/pills have been sized along with 12,369 injections, 438 kg of heroin, opium 446 kg, poppy husk 8,553 quintals, smack 13 kg, and 709 kg of other intoxicant powder.
Role of Pakistan, Afghanistan
The DIG also submitted to the HC that, “The Golden Crescent comprising Afghanistan and Pakistan is the top heroin-producing region in the world. Most of the opium is cultivated in Afghanistan and the heroin factories are located in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” He further added that heroin consignments meant for national and international markets transit through Punjab after crossing the border through Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and other sectors to reach hubs located in New Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities. From these transit hubs, the consignments are either funneled into the national distribution network or find their way to the international market.
Sidhu submitted that extradition proceedings of 11 persons living abroad has been started by the state, as their open arrest warrants have been obtained from the courts concerned after their declaration as proclaimed offenders in drug cases. The matter had been taken up with the central government through the Interpol wing of the CBI to extradite them.
These are Madan Lal of Samantpur village in Jalandhar (now in UK), and Canada-based NRIs Harbans Singh Sidhu of Burj village in Ludhiana, Gursewak Singh of Leel Megh Singh village in Ludhiana, Amarjit Singh Koonar of Mehmadpur in Jalandhar, Pardeep Singh Dhaliwal of Leel Megh Singh village in Ludhiana, Lehmber Singh of Mahsimpur village in Jalandhar, Sarabjit Singh of Balio village in Ludhiana, Nirankar Singh Dhillon of Appra village in Jalandhar, Parmod Sharma of Karol Bagh in New Delhi, and Maninder Chhina of Jhanjoti village in Amritsar.
CBI probe sought again
Former Congress MP Jagmeet Singh Brar, as an intervener in the case, alleging political influence of state government in the police investigation, submitted that the probe in the drug racket should be handed over to the CBI. However, Punjab advocate general Ashok Aggarwal informed the court that there was no need of CBI probe since the state police had been doing fair investigation that had been appreciated by the HC earlier, and it was just because of the political reasons that Brar had been raising this issue time and again.