The Punjab police’s move to crack the whip on drug peddlers and arresting a number of people in such cases soon after the Lok Sabha results were declared has earned them both praise and criticism. HT talked to Nirmal Singh Dhillon, inspector general of police (IGP), Jalandhar zone, over the police’s coming into action so suddenly over the drug issue.
The police action on drug peddlers caught such a momentum after the Lok Sabha polls. Why this?
It is wrong to say so. More than 10,000 drug peddlers were arrested across the state in months before the elections. People may have thought so because during the Lok Sabha elections, the entire police administration was busy in carrying smooth polls. Now, we are back with more vigourously.
In many areas, people are criticising the registration of FIRs in drug cases saying that the police are catching addicts not peddlers.
The channel to nab the supplier goes through the consumer only. How would we know of the source if we do not catch the consumer? With the Punjab police getting tough on peddlers and the demand of the drugs increasing, it was noticed that consumers became suppliers at times. The police need to nab such suppliers as well.
Why only small suppliers are being arrested? What about big drug traders, especially those enjoying political patronage?
Every drug supplier is bad for society— be it small or big. We are not going to spare anybody about whom we have information.
The common man finds it difficult to share information with police. Don’t you think the police need to put more efforts to win the trust of people?
You are right but our efforts to win the common man’s confidence have started bringing in results. In Fatehgarh Sahib and Ludhiana rural police districts of my zone, we have put hoardings asking people to share information with senior superintendent of police (SSPs) directly. Your name may get leaked at the lower level but not at the SSP level. With inputs of people, we have caught huge cache of drugs in last one week. Now we are planning to do the same in other districts of the zone as well.
Do you think catching drug peddlers will end the drug menace in Punjab?
No. We need to rehabilitate and bring back those addicts to the mainstream. Besides breaking the supply chain we also need to make efforts to help drug consumers come to de-addiction centres. In Nurmahal, Nakodar and Phillaur, we have brought about 1,000 drug addicts to de-addiction camps in police buses.
Besides drugs, common problem for visitors at police stations is that they don’t find the SHOs on their seats. In such cases, how you will improve police functioning?
In many cases, it is true. Station house officers (SHOs) do not sit at police stations citing one reason or another. From the day I joined here, I have asked all the SSPs coming under my zone to activate the landline numbers at all police stations. The SSPs and DSPs have been directed to contact the SHOs on landline during duty hours.