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Struggling to curb drug menace, Punjab Cabinet wants death for narcotics convicts

Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act already has provisions of the death penalty for repeat drug offenders. 

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: July 2, 2018 7:16:38 pm
Capt. Amarinder Singh chairing the Cabinet meeting to discuss the drug menace in the state. (Source: Twitter/AmarinderSingh)

The Punjab government on Monday recommended the death penalty for those convicted in drug smuggling cases. Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh said the recommendation was being forwarded to the Centre. The decision to recommend the death penalty was taken in a cabinet meeting held in the state. Making Punjab free from drugs was one of the commitments of the Congress ahead of the Assembly election last year. “Since drug peddling is destroying entire generations, it deserves exemplary punishment. I stand by my commitment for drug-free Punjab,” Singh said.

It is worth noting that the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act already has provisions of the death penalty for repeat drug offenders. The move is aimed to act as a deterrent to the heinous crime, which was “destroying” the lives of youth in Punjab and many other places.

DGP Suresh Arora, citing data related to arrests and seizures of drugs under the NDPS Act said that there had been a sharp increase in the figures since the Captain Amarinder government took over. However, with an increased vigilance by Police, STF and aided by the BSF the Seizure of heroin had then gradually declined over a period of time. Navjot Singh Sidhu had also expressed concern at the public perception that the government had not succeeded in eliminating the drug menace.

The decision comes after mounting public pressure over the drug menace in the state. Observing a ‘Black Week’ (July 1-7), people had staged protests across the state against the government’s inaction. This apolitical protest movement ‘Chittey De Virodh Vich Kaala Hafta’, with the tagline, Maro Jaan Virodh Karo (either die or speak against drugs), was started after a spate of drug-related deaths were reported from across the state in June.

A call to observe the first week of July as ‘Black Week’ had been given by several NGOs and prominent personalities of the state to wake up the government.

Facing criticism from all quarters following a spurt in deaths due to drug overdose, Singh had called a special cabinet meeting.

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“Besides discussing the causes of the drugs menace, which remains a matter of concern despite the major strides made in tackling it, the meeting will take stock of the measures being taken to tackle the problem. The cabinet is expected to suggest the response mechanism to deal with the issue in a more aggressive way,” read a statement released by the government.

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