After three drug deaths, cops lay siege to Ludhiana village | punjab$most-popular | Hindustan Times
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After three drug deaths, cops lay siege to Ludhiana village

A strange calm prevails in Kul Gehna, a tiny village in the Bet area on the banks of the Sutlej. Its streets are filled with gun-toting policemen, some of them wielding lathis, signalling every visitor to a halt.

punjab Updated: May 09, 2016 18:39 IST
Syringes and lighters used to consume drugs in a field at Kul Gehna village in Ludhiana.
Syringes and lighters used to consume drugs in a field at Kul Gehna village in Ludhiana. (JS Grewal/HT)

A strange calm prevails in Kul Gehna, a tiny village in the Bet area on the banks of the Sutlej. Its streets are filled with gun-toting policemen, some of them wielding lathis, signalling every visitor to a halt.

“We cannot allow outsiders, even mediapersons,” says Bikramjit Singh, an assistant sub-inspector, as his subordinates ran their hands over us, checking for drugs. “Usually people from the cities come here to buy chitta.”

Kul Gehna and villages adjacent to it have been under virtual siege for the past few days as police swung into action following the death of three youths in the past two weeks.

Police suspect the youths died of drug abuse, and decided it was time to act against the village where “everyone” sells chitta, Punjabi for white, powdered synthetic drugs.

The deaths of the youths, aged 18 to 22, are a grim reminder of how deep the rot of drug abuse has crept into the largely agrarian society in Punjab.

But it also exposed the state government’s tall claims that it was acting tough — here was an entire village, which proved otherwise.

“Smuggling of chitta is a means of living for the majority of the villagers here. In the last four days, many on bikes and in cars ran away after seeing us,” says a cop manning one among a string of check-posts.

“Some drug addicts take chitta by injecting it into their veins… it becomes five times stronger that way.”

On Saturday afternoon, villagers performed the ‘Bhog’ of one of the dead men, who was at his in-laws’. There were around 40 to 50 people mourning, but no one was willing to talk about how the youth had died.

Outside, however, the road told a lot of stories —through used spoons, syringes and lighters. But sarpanch Balbir Singh says the village has been demonised. “Police and some others have been defaming my village, one or two houses may be involved in smuggling drugs, but they are blaming the entire village. If police find drugs, they are free to take action,” he said.