Handpicked by chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh to command the Special Task Force (STF) constituted to eradicate drug menace in Punjab, 1992-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer and additional director general of police (ADGP) Harpreet Sidhu has hit the ground running. After ending his deputation with the Central Reserve Police Force on Thursday, he took over the STF’s charge on Friday. Tasked with fulfilling Capt’s promise within one month, Sidhu shared his plans for the ambitious mission with Hindustan Times.
What will be the immediate strategy of the STF?
The first aim is to involve the masses in this drive against drugs. Only seizure and crackdown won’t help. We need a synchronised strategy for prevention, seizures and rehabilitation of the addicts.
But such exercises were launched earlier too. How will this STF be any different?
I have prepared a special blueprint. The CM has also suggested a special strategy. Cops will ensure that either the drug suppliers fall in line and are compelled to leave this illegal business or fall in the police net. The three inspector generals of police in the STF and I would monitor each and every big operation personally. You can gauge the government’s seriousness from the fact that the CM has openly given the STF a free hand and I have been given an office in the CMO so that I can report to him daily.
What will be your immediate instructions to police at district level ?
I will start my tour across the state from Gurdaspur and Amritsar on Saturday. My team will be holding district and zonal meetings. The message to cops is going to be loud and clear: ending drug trade is our first and foremost priority. District police personnel are already on the job for the past 15 days. We will help them develop area-specific strategies.
Generally, it’s seen while the addicts get nabbed, the big suppliers remain untouched. Your views?
You won’t see such a thing happening this time. In drug trade, consumers generally become couriers and suppliers. Big or small, every fish will be on our target. Once the government approves our strategy, we will present a long-term sustainable model to fight drug menace.
It’s widely believed that police-politicianpeddler nexus is the main reason behind the problem. How will you tackle it?
The CM has already clarified that whosoever is found guilty won’t be spared. The STF will work in tandem with central narcotics bureaus and other agencies to keep a tab on such nexuses.
Besides traditional drugs like opium, Punjab has also been flooded with synthetic and medicinal drugs. Supply of heroin too continues from across the border. Which of these will face a crackdown first?
We will impose a crackdown on everybody (involved in drug trade). As far as crossborder supply of heroin is concerned, the Border Security Force (BSF) is doing a commendable job. Cops will remain on their toes to catch any drug consignment that slips through.
Is it possible to end the deeprooted drug problem in a month?
Why not? What you need are good intentions, strong willpower and well chalkedout strategy. The CM has shown strong commitment, and with the help of citizens, the police will make this drive a people’s movement.
ADGP Harpreet Sidhu, incharge, anti-drugs Special Task Force