On May 29, police in Batala, Gurdaspur, arrested Lovedeep Singh, 24, a constable with the Punjab Police, with 1 gram of heroin and booked him under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. According to the FIR filed at the Sadar police station, a team headed by ASI Malkit Singh, who is both the complainant and the investigating officer in the case, came across Lovedeep when they were “searching for bad people”. The FIR says that they saw a young man coming towards them from the “Bhullar village side”. On seeing the policemen, the man “panicked and turned around”. The police confronted him, asked if he was carrying intoxicants and sure enough, he was. The FIR says the police frisked the man and recovered 1 gram of heroin from the “right pocket of his pants”.
The same day, another FIR was lodged at the same police station against Lovedeep’s friend Gurmukh Singh. The circumstances mentioned in both the FIRs are identical right down to the last detail — the suspicious gait of the accused and the 1 gm heroin recovered from the “right pocket of his pants”. Only the names of the policemen and the accused and the place of arrest — in Gurmukh’s case, it’s Dheer village in Gurdaspur — are different.
Both Lovedeep and Gurmukh are now out on bail. Both say the police picked them up from Dhariwal town. Both admitted to The Sunday Express that they used drugs, but denied they ever sold drugs or carried any when they were caught. They alleged the police kept them in illegal confinement for a day.
“The police are trying to please the government by planting small quantities of drugs on people who are already in the grip of drugs,” says Lovedeep’s uncle Baldev Singh. ASI Malkit Singh dismissed these charges as “baseless” — “something every accused and their families would say”.
On May 20, the ruling Akali Dal-BJP government, fresh from the reverses the coalition had suffered in the Lok Sabha elections, launched a massive crackdown on the drug network in the state. While the Punjab Police had already made a few big arrests such as those of Jagdish Bhola, a former Punjab Police DSP, and NRI Anoop Singh Kahlon last year, the setback in the Lok Sabha elections had forced the government to launch a more visible crackdown. During the elections, the Opposition had targeted the government over the easy availability of drugs and growing addiction among the youth and alleged that the drug trade was flourishing with patronage from the Akali Dal. The Aam Aadmi continued…