Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday ordered an investigation into the recent drug deaths and called for stringent action against those found guilty without consideration of their political affiliations. Amarinder ordered the investigation after several ministers in the Cabinet asked the government to first check the cause of deaths.
The CM said he would hold a meeting at 3 pm every Monday to review the progress of the fight against drug menace. A government statement quoted Amarinder as saying, “Describing drug abuse as a disease requiring treatment, the Chief Minister stressed on the need for rehabilitation of the victims and for making the anti-drug campaign a people’s movement. Pointing out that enforcement was different from creating awareness, he said the latter could not be done by a single agency but had to be a collective effort involving the people.”
The CM also met the initiators of ‘Black Week Against White’ campaign on the social media to create awareness about the problem. They included Dr Bhupinder Singh Pali, Hakam Singh, Baltej Pannu and Baljinder Singh (Mintoo), a reformed drug addict. The government release stated that they welcomed the stern steps taken by the government, which they said had brought about a perceptible change in the public mood and perception about the issue.
The activists squarely blamed the Akalis, who they said did nothing to channelize the energy of the youth. They said that the erstwhile Akali government had pulled money out of sports and other activities that could engage youth, thus letting them to be pulled into drugs, said the statement. The activists suggested formation of committees, consisting of 10-15 youth each, in villages to identify drug addicts. Private hospitals should be asked to provide treatment to drug addicts, they suggested, in response to which the Chief Minister asked Health Minister Brahm Mohindra to talk to private hospitals for reservation of some beds for addicts.
They expressed concern over the ‘deep nexus’ between drug dealers and police personnel, especially at the SI and ASI levels. People were afraid to identify such cops, they said, urging strong steps to build confidence among the citizens, said the statement.
CM takes to social media to warn peddlers
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday took to social media and warned drug peddlers and smugglers of dire circumstances. In a video, Amarinder told the drug dealers to desist from peddling narcotics failing which they would face stern action.
The CM said his government was writing to the Centre to include death penalty as punishment for peddlers in the NDPS Act. He said he had directed the Health Minister to ensure the addicts were taken to the deaddiction centres and treated.