In what is being touted as the largest ‘sample survey’ of the reality of drug addiction in Punjab, the state police on Wednesday started dope tests on the first lot of 4.7 lakh male aspirants for 6,252 jobs of constable. On the first day, of the 7,800 candidates tested across the state, 294 tested positive for drugs. That is 3.7%, but includes those who used non-addictive, performance-enhancing drugs. Those found using addictive drugs were 1.5% of all tested.
Of those who failed the dope test, 121 were found to be under the influence of dangerous, habit-forming drugs while the others had used non-addictive, performance-enhancing drugs for the physical trials.
The whole of July will see almost 4.7 lakh male applicants undergo a five-drug dope test, conducted by the Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences, Faridkot, using kits which can be used on the spot. Woman candidates (almost 1.23 lakh) do not have to undertake the dope test. There are 7,416 posts (6,252 for men and 1,164 for women), and all the applicants are below the age of 28.
On an average 400 candidates were called at more than 27 test centres. Other than the dope test, candidates had to undertake a 1600-metre race, long and high jumps besides 500 sit-ups.
The police recruitment dope test, the first-of-its-kind in India, comes at a time when the Akali government is facing acute criticism over the issue of drug addiction. Politically, the final results of these tests could end up either providing additional ammunition to the opposition or support the Akali claim that the drug issue has been blown out of proportion.
“Anyone from the public, media or politician of any party is free to go to the places where the physical trials and dope testing are going on and check how the tests are being done. There is complete transparency,” said deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday. The entire recruitment procedure is also being video-recorded.