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In Dakha, drugs a poll issue; residents coin slogan to express helplessness

Hindustan Times, Ludhiana | By Mohit Khanna, Ludhiana
UPDATED ON OCT 15, 2019 12:54 AM IST

With the state’s political establishment only paying lip-service to the eradication of drug menace in Dakha constituency for years, residents of 13 wards and 110 villages falling in the assembly seat have coined their own slogan to highlight the issue

The seat goes to polls on October 21.

“Angrezi Course Karo, Te Javana Nu Nasheyan Toh Bachao (Qualify an English course for immigration (mostly IELTS International English Language Testing System) and save your youth from drugs,” goes the catchy line. Following the slogan, the majority of youngsters from villages in Bet and surrounding areas in the constituency are joining IELTS centres, there are 30 of these in Mullanpur. A large chunk of students also visit Ludhiana to study at these centres The ultimate purpose: Settle abroad on a study visa to escape the drug menace.

“At least one youngster from each household is abroad for studies; those left behind are preparing for this. For now, this is the only plausible solution with us to deal with the menace,” said Sulakhan Singh, 70, a village elder, at Kahanderwal village. The elderly of Savaddi Kalan, Khanjarwal, Majri, Mandiani and Bhatha Dhua villages also share similar views. Majri village is bearing the brunt of the issue. “Both the SAD and the Congress are responsible for the situation. Police and political patronage further deteriorated the situation,” an elder claimed.

Gurpreet Singh, a Class-12 passout, from Savaddi, preparing for the IELTS, says, “Almost every youngster in Savaddi wants to fly abroad. There are no jobs, and youngsters are falling prey to drugs. I do not want to stay here and ruin my future.”

Drug overdose deaths put spotlight on issue

The drug menace came to light in the Dakha area after Jeevanjot, a 24-year-old son of a police sub-inspector, Gurmeet Singh, died due to drug overdose in June last year. A constable Davinder Singh, who was hooked to drugs, was also arrested soon after. With the incidents grabbing headlines, the then Dakha MLA HS Phoolka gave a call for ‘Mera Pind Nasha Mukt’ (My Village Drug-Free) campaign aimed to free villages in the area of drugs. The campaign, however, lost steam after his resignation.

Since then, the drug taint has failed to leave the constituency, with a youngster, Sukhdeep Singh, missing for months. Sukhdeep was last seen riding pillion on a motorcycle with another unidentified youth, who villagers claim, was addicted to drugs. Just a month ago, the area also saw another death due to drug overdose.

An RTI activist from Mullanpur, Jagshir Singh, said, “There is no actual data of deaths due to drug overdose, as in most cases the family fears social embarrassment and, often, does not get a post-mortem done.”

Ludhiana Range deputy inspector general RS Khatra admitted that the Dakha area was notorious for prevalence of drugs. “Lately, things are under control, as we have been dealing strictly with peddlers,” Khatra added.

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