In a unique endeavour, 17 village panchayats of Nawanshahr (Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar), cutting across party lines, have formed a front to fight the drug menace. Representatives of panchayats submitting a memorandum to deputy commissioner Anindita Mittra in Nawanshahr.
Upset over police inaction in checking the open sale and availability of drugs in villages – where a large number of youths had got addicted — these panchayats have formed Nasha Mukayo Panchayat Group and decided to help the district administration and the police to arrest drug sellers.
“The constitution of this forum is a declaration of our decisive war against drugs. We will fight for the cause unitedly.
Political parties have only increased this menace, we will try to curb it,” said Surinder Jhalli, sarpanch of Langroa village, which is the hub of the drug racket in the region. A postgraduate, Surinder has played a key role in bringing various panchayats on a common platform.
The sarpanch said his village had witnessed more than 70 thefts, allegedly by drug addicts, in the past two months. Similar is the case with nearly villages.
In Langroa village, womenfolk are also involved in the drug trade. As per data collected by a local NGO under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, around 40 cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act were re gistered against women of this village, equal to those against men.
“The problem has reached such alarming proportions that addicts are not even leaving utensils.
Whatever they see lying outside houses, they steal it and sell it to meet their drug needs. There is hardly any youth left in my village who is not using smack or white intoxicant power (known as Chitta),” said Rashpal Singh, sarpanch of Bhaguran village.
“Our village has witnessed more than 20 cases of snatching or looting at night in the past three months. Our women cannot move out without fear and our girls cannot go alone to schools. Enough is enough. We have decided to fight this menace ourselves,” he said.
A local member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Gurbax Singh Khalsa, is part of this group.
“This is an apolitical group whose aim is to eradicate drugs from the region. It will be systematic campaign, where at the village level, if the police fail to do the needful, we will set up nakas or check posts at all entry points,” said Khalsa.
On Monday, the forum submitted a memorandum to deputy commissioner Anindita Mittra and senior superintendent of police (SSP) Dhanpreet Kaur and gave seven days’ time to take action. “If that won’t happen, we will start fighting on our own,” said the sarpanch of Jaithu Ke village.
The DC appreciated the panchayats’ initiative and said such a social movement was the need of the hour to tackle the problem of drugs.
“The administration has decided to depute local officers who will do continuous surveillance of the drug racket being run in the region. I have instructed local revenue officials to give me a report every third day. These panchayats have of fered us all possible help,” Mittra said.