With four weeks already over, the Punjab government on Friday issued a notification to give formal shape to its terms of reference and broad functions of the Special Task Force (STF) constituted to combat drugs. It was a prepoll promise of the Congress to weed out the drug menace from the state in four weeks.
A government release, however, said, “Given the criticality of its objectives and the stringent timelines it was faced with, the STF, headed by ADGP Harpreet Singh Sidhu, did not wait for the formal notification and had already initiated work with the chief minister himself giving Sidhu a free hand to fight the drug scourge.” The release said the Department of Home Affairs has now formalised the structure and framework for the STF to work in, thereby facilitating its operations further.
According to the notification, the STF will chalk out strategies, measures and methods to enforce the law against drug-trafficking, prevent drug abuse, rehabilitate victims and co-ordinate with other government agencies and police units to achieve this objective. It will also work in coordination with district police, GRP and other police units as well as supervise the registration and investigation of cases under the charter of STF,” said the government communique.
Further, the STF will recommend disciplinary action and/or criminal action against police, health and officials of other departments found involved in illegal/unlawful activities related to drug-trafficking. It has also been assigned the task of collecting technical/human intelligence and maintain surveillance in accordance with law, plan and execute special operations against drug traffickers through special teams and also in association with other units of Punjab Police as well as other government departments. It will coordinate the work of government departments regarding the above charter according to instructions issued by the government from time to time and also commission or conduct data analysis and make recommendations to the government for necessary policy changes.
Steps to ensure enforcement of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, and all related criminal and civil laws in order to sever the drug supply lines by taking stringent action against suppliers, dealers and peddlers is a key agenda for the STF. To further its agenda, STF will coordinate with various agencies, including MHA, NCB, ED, IB, Cabinet Secretariat, etc. for effective enforcement of Prevention of Illicit Traffic in the NDPS Act. It would also take steps to create a mass sentiment against drug menace and enlist public support for efficient and effective law enforcement, as per the notification terms.
According to the notification, the STF would aim to catch big dealers and distributors to obliterate drugs from the state, while poor consumers would be dealt with compassion and sympathy to bring them back to the mainstream.