With the drug menace becoming a major issue in Punjab during the recent Lok Sabha polls, the army is also keen to check the entry of drug addicts in the defence forces.
During a recruitment rally at the Khasa cantonment here on Thursday, the army introduced a dope test. Around 3,000 youngsters from across the state turned up for the physical endurance and medical tests at the rally.
The dope test was also aimed at spotting candidates who may have consumed performance enhancing drugs for the 1.6-km race.
“This is for the first time that we have conducted the dope test at a recruitment rally in the country,” said Lt Gen Balbir Pama, director general, recruitment, while talking to select mediapersons.
He said this decision was taken at a meeting of army recruitment of ficers held at Bengaluru recently.
On the need for a dope test, he said, “After holding recruitment rallies at different places in the country, we came across used syringes and empty injections.
This made us realise that youths coming for recruitment might be injecting drugs to boost their stamina for the physical test.”
Brig Udai Yadav, deputy director general for Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir areas, who was also present, made it clear that the use of drugs at recruitment rallies was not limited to Punjab.
This trend has been noticed in other states also, he added.
HOW IT’S DONE
The dope test is conducted by doctors of the Army Medical Corps (AMC). A US-made on-site drug testing kit is used, costing 250 per kit.
“This is a urine testing kit, which can detect drugs such as opium, cannabis, charas, smack, heroin or the commonly used intravenous drugs such as amphetamine and cough syrups,” said Col (Dr) Sanjay Jha.
He said this kit could not detect drugs used by professional sportspersons for improving their performance. “Such drugs are expensive and those seeking recruitment will not be able to afford them,” he added.
Candidates reporting for recruitment are picked at random for the test. The AMC team had taken five urine samples and all tested negative.
“Candidates are also singled out for tests if their movements raise suspicion. We can pick a suspect during eye scanning,” said Col Jha.
The AMC doctors pointed out that at times the intake of drugs could cause a person to collapse due to high blood pressure during the 1.6-km race and this could even prove lethal at times.