Amarinder Singh calls for collaborative efforts to fight drug menace

Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday underlined the need for collaborative efforts to fight the drug menace in the state, at the inauguration of a three-day regional workshop on ‘Combating Illicit Trafficking of Afghan Opiates: Developing a Comprehensive Approach’ in Chandigarh.

“Rivulets in Punjab were being used to smuggle drugs as part of a strategic agenda that went beyond commercial reasons,” said the Chief Minister. He further sought continued support and assistance of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in fighting the drug problem, which, he described, as a “strategic conspiracy unleashed from across the international border.”

Confident that his government would succeed in destroying the drugs business, Singh said, “UNODC could help the state by identifying the big sharks that had a stake in the drug business. While the STF (Special Task Force) and other agencies had been successful in catching mid-level peddlers, the big suppliers need to be apprehended too.”

The Chief Minister referred to the initiative taken by him to write to the chief ministers of the neighbouring states, which led to the constitution of a joint control room in Haryana’s Panchkula. Such collective efforts would help in destroying the drug racket, he asserted.

Adding that the state has been facing the problem for a long time, Singh said the state has seen a shift from the marijuana to synthetic stuff. Referring to Facebook posts of young girls sniffing drugs, he expressed concern at the dangerous trend and said his government was going all out to deal with the problem.

“The seizure of a consignment that had come from Mandvi, Gujarat into Punjab clearly suggested that the aim of the drug smugglers was to starve the Indian Army of precious manpower, thus weakening the country’s defence apparatus,” said the Chief Minister. Singh also pointed out that even a Border Security Force constable was caught for complicity.

The STF has registered 18,216 cases, arrested 21,489 people under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, and seized 461 kgs of heroin since April 1, 2017.

The STF also recovered additional 14 kgs of smack, 134 kgs of charas, 1,040 kgs of opium, 63,421 kgs of poppy husk, 676 kgs of bhang, 9 kgs of ice, 3,369 kgs of ganja, 225 kgs of intoxicant powder, 89,50,421 pills/capsules, and 76,114 injections.