Apparently alarmed over the frequent reports of recovery of contraband items under its jurisdiction, the office of Jalandhar (rural) senior superintendent of police has issued a gag order to all station house officers (SHOs) disallowing them from talking to the media in connection with cases registered under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
Instructions have been issued to all police stations under rural police jurisdiction that no station house officer (SHO) will hold press conferences and issue press releases related to cases registered under the NDPS Act.
These instructions are learned to have been issued after a meeting held by newly appointed SSP Jaspreet Singh Sidhu with SHOs and other senior police officials on February 4.
Moreover, they have been instructed that if they want to hold a press conference or issue a press release, they should seek prior permission from the superintendent of police (detective).
Surprisingly, rather than ensuring that the police should maintain complete transparency about the recovery of contraband from drug peddlers and suppliers, the SSP has gone overboard trying to curtail dissemination of information about drug cases.
Sidhu joined as SSP on February 1, following the transfer of Narinder Bhargava who has now joined as commandant, 3rd Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB), Ludhiana.
When HT contacted the Nakodar Sadar police station to seek information about Karamjeet Singh, a resident of Harbans Enclave, Basti Danishmandan, who was arrested by the special staff of rural police on Friday with heroin and a gun, the munshi present there refused to provide any information.
The munshi did not reveal his name and asked to contact senior officials. Generally, police personnel do not shy away from sharing information with the media.
If some senior officials are to be believed the decision has been taken to restrain media reports on recovery of drugs, thus exposing the government’s claims that drugs are no longer a serious issue in Punjab.
In 2014, an average four persons were arrested and three booked everyday by the Jalandhar (rural) police under various sections of the NDPS Act between January 1 and December 30. The rural police arrested 1,513 people and booked 1,175 during this time.
The police seized 12.27 kg heroin, 11,544 kg poppy husk, 98 kg intoxicant powder, 8.5 kg opium, 10 kg charas, 86 gm smack, 320 injections and 4,100 intoxicant capsules or pills.
The SSP did not take repeated calls made on his mobile phone for two days. He was not available for comments at the office as well.