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Punjab wants death penalty for drug smugglers, peddlers

Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh had called for the meeting to discuss the issue, particularly in the wake of recent spate of deaths due to drug overdose in the state

punjab Updated: Jul 03, 2018 09:39 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab,Drugs,Drugs problem in Punjab
The Cabinet meeting also reviewed the progress of probes in drug peddling cases and discuss ways and means to curb drug menace.(Twitter Photo)

The Punjab cabinet on Monday decided to recommend to the Centre death penalty for drug smugglers.

The move comes at a time when the Captain Amarinder Singh-led Congress government is facing criticism from different quarters over alleged spate of deaths due to drug overdose in the state.

It will act as a deterrent to the heinous crime, which was “destroying” the lives of youth in Punjab and many other places, said a government spokesperson.

The cabinet meeting, chaired by the chief minister, also resolved to send a formal recommendation soon to the Union government to this effect.

The chief minister had called the meeting to discuss the issue, particularly in the context of deaths of nearly 30 youths due to alleged drug overdose and adulterated drugs in the state recently.

Opposition parties, including the AAP and the SAD, and NGOs have been hitting out at the 15-month old Congress government for allegedly failing to contain drug menace in the state.

The cabinet also decided to constitute a special working group under the chairmanship of additional chief secretary (home) N S Kalsi to review and monitor, on a day-to-day basis, the action being taken to check and control drug abuse. The working group will have ACS (health), DGP (law & order), DGP (intelligence) and ADGP (STF) as members, the spokesperson said after the meeting.

Kalsi asked the DGP to review the drug scenario across the state with SSPs on a fortnightly basis. Those found not performing up to the mark should be taken to task and adverse remarks should be penned in their ACRs, he suggested.

A cabinet sub-committee has also been formed under the chairmanship of the chief minister, with the special working group mandated to report directly to it.

Health and social security ministers have been appointed members of the sub-committee which will meet once a week to take stock of the situation and review the progress of the anti-drug campaign of the government, the spokesperson said.

Before the meeting started, all members of the cabinet observed a two-minute silence as a mark of respect to the Sikhs killed in the Afghanistan attack, as well as the youth who have died due to drug overdose and the farmers who have committed suicide in the state.

The formal meeting was preceded by informal discussions, during which senior home department and Punjab Police officers briefed the cabinet members, who were also joined by state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar.

During discussions, the CM ordered DGP Suresh Arora to intensify the police crackdown on the drug menace.

Local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu expressed concern at the public perception that the government had not succeeded in eliminating the drug menace.

Pointing out that NDPS Act was a very sensitive and specialised legislation, advocate general Atul Nanda mooted the creation of a special cadre of at least 15 well-trained prosecutors to secure conviction of drug offenders in an effective manner, as a corrective measure.

First Published: Jul 02, 2018 17:32 IST