The Punjab government’s crackdown on the drug menace has emboldened many families to approach the state police to seek help for early rehabilitation of their kin.
On June 25, Surinder Kaur, a resident of Ferozepur city, called up the district police chief on the ‘181’ helpline to inform that her 22-year-old son is addicted to drugs (‘chitta’, white powder). She claimed that her son had stolen her mobile phone and Rs 4,000 from his father’s pocket and used the money for buying the white powder.
She also disclosed that her son had been admitted to the rehabilitation centre at the Government Medical College, Faridkot, but once he was discharged, he again started taking drugs.
Ferozepur senior superintendent of police (SSP) Gurpreet Singh Toor called the son to his office along with his parents and counselled him to give up drugs. The youth is now at the rehabilitation centre at Faridkot and is under drug de-addiction treatment.
The district police chief also deployed one security man round the clock with the youth to ensure that he didn’t get the supply of drugs again.
Baljinder Singh of Muktsar district also called up the police to inform that his 23-year-old son is a drug addict and an alcoholic. Ravaldeep Singh, also from Mukatsar, claimed that his younger brother is a drug addict. Kajol from Shahkot called up to inform that her husband, drug addict, needed help immediately. She also requested the police not to publicly reveal the identity of her husband.
Veerpal Kaur (Muktsar) and Paramjeet Kaur (Ludhiana) complained about their sons, both in their mid-20s. Resham Singh of Amritsar district informed that his son not only took drugs but also harassed the family for money.
All these parents have voluntarily come forward to seek police help and want their wards to be rehabilitated at the earliest.
When deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal first put out an advertisement in the media, asking people to report about drug addicts as the government wanted to help them, not many took him seriously and believed it to be more of a political gimmick to gain the ground lost over the issue (drug menace) during the recent Lok Sabha polls.
However, when Sukhbir reendorsed his commitment that action would be taken under the supervision of police commissioners and district police chiefs, addicts and their parents gradually started approaching the authorities.
It is lear n that when the campaign was launched with a public message on June 18, just 13 calls were received in a day. By the end of June, the figure went up to 40-50 calls every day. The police have till date received 850 calls.
A majority of the callers have been from the border districts of Punjab, followed by Bathinda, Jalandhar and Patiala zones.
Additional director general of police (ADGP), law and order, Dinkar Gupta, who is the incharge of the state drug monitoring cell and keeps Sukhbir updated even during the latter’s foreign visits, said, “It’s very unfortunate that many youths in Punjab have taken to drugs, but the encouraging sign is that the campaign initiated by the police is yielding the desired results.”
“More and more people are coming forward to seek help for their family members. We are also getting information from neighbours and village residents. I think there is confidence building up among the people that the police would take corrective measures to help them if they inform in time,” he added.
The Punjab Police had launched a toll-free helpline number (181) early in June with special emphasis on fighting the drug menace. The state government advertised the campaign with the tagline: “Say no to drugs”, asking people to report about drug suppliers, places where drugs are sold or any harassment related to drugs.