Even as Punjab awaits the imposition of the code of conduct for the forthcoming Assembly elections, the Election Commission (EC)-monitored crackdown on intoxicants has started showing results with illicit liquor and drugs being seized from across the state.
The Indian Express accessed the weekly performance reports of six districts, including two police districts, which have been submitted by the respective Senior Superintendents of Police to the EC. These performance appraisal reports pertain to the first 15 days of December and give out elaborate details about not only the seizures of drugs and liquor, but also the number of absconders and proclaimed offenders accused of heinous crimes who have been arrested or are yet to be arrested.
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The data of Punjab Police seizures from six districts of Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Batala, Amritsar rural, Tarn Taran and Sri Muktsar Sahib shows that large quantities of liquor are being seized along with poppy husk, narcotic powder, intoxicant capsules etc.
A detailed analysis of the six districts chosen as case studies showed that the maximum seizure of Lahan (home made liquor) has been made from Gurdaspur district in the period under survey while Amritsar Rural tops the list of seizure of illicit liquor. From the figures made available by the Punjab Police, it also emerges that maximum seizures as of now are being made of illicit liquor while poppy husk, intoxicant capsules/tablets, heroin and narcotic powder are lesser in number in comparison. Intoxicant capsules and tablets have been seized from Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran while poppy husk has been sized in large quantities from Batala and Muktsar.
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s Assembly constituency of Lambi in Sri Muktsar Sahib district has also not been spared in the crackdown directed by the EC and 19 KG of poppy husk was seized from there during the same period. In fact, a detailed compilation of seizures from January 1, 2016 to December 15 in Muktsar shows there have been heavy seizures of intoxicants from the district.
The data shows that the police have seized 13,795 intoxicant capsules/tablets have been recovered from Muktsar along with 6835 litres of Lahan, 3,126 litres of illicit liquor, 222 kg poppy husk and 140 injections. As many as 83 persons have been arrested from the district in connection with illegal possession of intoxicants.
A senior EC official said the noose around those involved in the trade of intoxicants would be further tightened in the days to come as central paramilitary forces will start arriving in Punjab from January 5.
“We intend to completely seal off the state from outside influence because this being a border state, there are security ramifications for the assembly polls. We aim to completely turn off any supply of intoxicants in these elections,” said a senior official who did not want to be named.
The EC drive against narcotics was also emphasised by the Chief Election Commissioner Naseem Zaidi during his visit to Chandigarh when he met top state government officials.
The message of zero tolerance against the use of intoxicants as a allurement for the Assembly polls is also being reiterated in the meetings with district nodal officials being held by the Chief Electoral Officer V K Singh.