It appears those suspected of having narcotic drugs in their possession have developed a proclivity to keep the contraband substance in the right hand pocket of their trousers for reasons best known to them and would rather be frisked by cops than in the presence of a gazetted officer or a magistrate. More interestingly, no one seems to be willing to help the police in nailing drug peddlers by appearing as a witness.
During the much-hyped drive against drug peddling conducted in the state, police officials were so busy in filing cases against suspects who had been arrested that they had no time to corroborate the facts and registered all FIRs in the same format, with only the suspects' names and the places where they had been apprehended having been changed.
Earlier this year, from July 3 to 19, the Salem Tabri police station filed 13 FIRs against suspects from whom illegal drugs had been seized under the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act. In eleven of the FIRs the police stated more or less the same thing - that the suspects tried to flee from the scene after sighting the cops.
In one case when the suspect was told about his right to be frisked by a gazetted officer or a magistrate he told them he preferred the police did the job and, when the cops obliged, drugs were from his trousers' right hand pocket.
In two other narcotics cases, which were filed by ASI Sukhpal Singh at the Salem Tabri police station on July 6 and July 7, the same thing happened. According to the FIRs registered, the suspects got down from an autorickshaw and tried to run away when they saw a police squad approaching them but were soon caught. However this time, when the police frisked them, they found drugs in the left hand pockets of their trousers.
Harjot Singh Bains, a lawyer and CEO of a local NGO, Public Welfare Forum, who obtained the FIRs through the Right to Information Act, said the Punjab police was only after hardcore drug addicts. "Junkies should be sent to drug rehab centres instead of prisons that are already overcrowded. Arresting addicts isn't the solution and instead aggravates problems for the addicts' families who are already going through incalculable suffering. Though I filed an application seeking details of all FIRs registered during the anti-drug drive under the RTI Act, the police have been reluctant to respond."