Home-grown or smuggled, drugs destroying generations across state | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Home-grown or smuggled, drugs destroying generations across state

From today, Hindustan Times is starting a debate on the drug menace in Punjab. Over the next few days, it will carry the voices of principal stakeholders and citizens on the issue; and cutting through all the political sparring, make them answer three big questions with all sincerity and seriousness.

chandigarh Updated: Jan 07, 2015 19:18 IST
HT Correspondents

From today, Hindustan Times is starting a debate on the drug menace in Punjab. Over the next few days, it will carry the voices of principal stakeholders and citizens on the issue; and cutting through all the political sparring, make them answer three big questions with all sincerity and seriousness.


Spare addicts, target suppliers

Bhagwant Mann, Aam Aadmi Party MP


How grave is the drug problem in Punjab?

Drugs are ruining the youth and the future of Punjab for past several years. It's on record that thousands of families have lost their sons, but the politicians do not take it seriously. The Akalis have been ruling the state for the past eight years but only now have started to feel the heat after the Enforcement Directorate has summoned their leaders. The ruling parties need to visit the aggrieved families to know the truth.


What specific steps should the governments, both the state and the Centre, take to tackle it?

If the ruling parties and our governments want to deal with the problem indeed, we can fight the drug menace easily. First the Punjab government should free its police of the influence of politicians and move its focus from the addicts to the drug suppliers. Instead of raising a finger at the Border Security Force, it should take steps to ban the supply of all kinds of intoxicants, including liquor, and shut all 23 liquor factories in the state. The drug addicts should be given special care and an environment for reform.

What can society and the political parties do to deal with the drug scourge?

The society and political parties need to work together. We should not treat the addicts as criminals but give them care and the courage to fight drugs. We cannot rid Punjab of the stigma of drugs until we bring our people back on track. We need to create awareness with the help of the NGOs (non-government organisations) to make Punjab drug-free.

Neeraj Mohan, Sangrur

Parents need to be pro-active

Giani Gurbachan Singh, Akal Takht jathedar


How grave is the drug problem in Punjab?

The problem of drug addiction is grave indeed. It is destroying an entire generation in Punjab. Not only the government but also civil society and parents have a major role to play. Parents especially need to be pro-active in keeping tabs on their children and communicating with them to stop them from going astray.


What specific steps should the governments, both the state and the Centre, take to tackle it?

The Punjab government is concerned about solving this problem and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) dharnas on the border are an indication of this seriousness. However, the state government needs to adopt an effective mechanism to check drug smuggling from across the border. It needs to make Punjab Police pro-active and sensitive to the problem, and not tolerate any laxity by its officers. The central government should be ready to provide state with whatever help it requires to curb drug trade.

What can society and the political parties do to deal with the drug scourge?

For checking drug addiction, parents need to educate their wards about what harm these substances can do. In fact, even drinking shouldn't be allowed at home, as it leads to more experimenting with drugs. The panchayats have not been playing their role, which is to report drug peddling in the villages and create awareness. Civil society and religious leaders can reform addicts by persuasion and sermons. This problem is not of any religion or political party alone, so it needs to be tackled jointly.

Harkirat Singh, Amritsar

Rise above party politics

Kamal Sharma, Punjab BJP president

How grave is the drug problem in Punjab?

Frustration in the young generation has increased, leading to a spike in crime under the influence of drugs. Women are not safe walking outside, as drug addicts try to snatch their gold ornaments and purses. The number of drug-related deaths is on the rise. Successive surveys have revealed that it takes only one addict to ruin the entire family.

What specific steps should the governments, both the state and the Centre, take to tackle it?

Both the Centre and the state should work in synergy. They ought to prepare a roadmap to go after the peddlers and break their supply chain without going into blame game. The security forces at the border have the duty to stop the inflow of drugs from outside, while state police need to smash the synthetic-drug-making racket inside without fear or favour. We need to declare the drug problem a national threat.

What can society and the political parties do to deal with the drug scourge?

Political parties should not shelter drug peddlers. They should rather rise above politics and join hands to awaken people. Leaders need to involve religious, social and educational institutions in the effort to rehabilitate the addicts, as mere breaking the supply chain or arresting a few peddlers won't do. Addicts need our help to get back into the mainstream of social life.

Ravinder Vasudeva, Jalandhar


Need for strong law, exemplary punishment

Capt Amarinder Singh, Congress deputy leader in Lok Sabha

How grave is the drug problem in Punjab?

The problem is extremely grave; it was grave even when I was chief minister and had raised the issue before the-then prime ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh. I had stated that drugs such as heroin were being smuggled from the international border and opium and poppy husk from neighbouring states such as Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. But the problem has now become alarming with the advent of synthetic drugs, which are being produced and consumed in Punjab. They are cheaper and more dangerous, and for this, the blame lies at the door of the state.

What specific steps should the governments, both the state and the Centre, take to tackle it?

There should be no politics on the issue. It does not matter who is in power at the Centre or the state. The state needs to plug its loopholes, while the Centre needs to cooperate by bringing in a strong law through a constitutional amendment, if needed, which can deter all states from producing and marketing narcotics. The Act should include exemplary punishment for those who trade in drugs, like the laws in Dubai and Thailand.

What can society and the political parties do to deal with the drug scourge?

As a politician, I have always highlighted the need for a national drug policy. I have also said that this policy should be enforced in spirit. I am ready to play a proactive role to fight the drug menace. I am ready to work with both the state and the Centre.

Sukhdeep Kaur, Chandigarh

Problem not as grave

Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab chief minister

How grave is the drug problem in Punjab?

The drug problem in the state is not as grave as made out to be. But to the extent that it exists, we are alive to it. And we are waging a war against it. No drug is manufactured in Punjab. We are fighting a problem created for us by the others.

What specific steps should the governments, both the state and the Centre, take to tackle it?

As far as the state government is concerned, we have adopted a three-pronged strategy: crackdown on smugglers and peddlers; a humane programme of de-addiction; and eventually rehabilitation of reformed users.

As far as the Centre is concerned, it should seal the international borders completely and ensure that other states do not produce and sell narcotics legally as they are doing now, in our neighbourhood especially.

What can society and the political parties do to deal with the drug scourge?

The political parties should engage in public awareness efforts against drugs. Society also needs to introspect honestly and weed out the menace from amidst us. The Shiromani Akali Dal today decided to launch a Lok Lehar (public-awareness campaign) against various social evils throughout the state.

Pawan Sharma, Chandigarh

Give police a free hand

Manpreet Badal, People's Party of Punjab president

How grave is the drug problem in Punjab?

Drug addiction seems to have affected the DNA of Punjabis. It's rampant and has affected an entire generation, which is showing physical signs of having lost its strength. Punjabis were known for their robust physique but look at our boys now. First it was alcoholism and now it is drugs ruining the state.

What specific steps should the governments, both the state and the Centre, take to tackle it?

If the state government has the will, the problem of drug supply can be sorted out in days, if not hours. We have a police that defeated terrorism and are capable of "closing the tap" if they allowed to. But as long as there is political patronage given to those trading in drugs, the business will flourish. Give the police a free hand, stop interfering in their working, and let the law prevail as equal to all. Don't sideline capable officers but use them.


What can society and the political parties do to deal with the drug scourge?

I ask Badal Saab (chief minister Parkash Singh Badal) to take a solemn pledge that no drugs will be distributed during elections. That is the first step; and then the leaders of other parties should do the same. When political parties distribute narcotics during elections, and I swear by my children that it happens, it is like feeding poison to our own children. That I think is the biggest crime and Punjab's greatest misfortune.

Chitleen K Sethi, Chandigarh

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