The arrest and the alleged suicide by assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Avtar Singh, accused of drug smuggling, in police custody earlier this week comes close on the heels of a drive by the Punjab Police and the Special Task Force to identify “black sheep” within the force and take stringent action against them.
The STF on August 12 arrested Avtar Singh and S-I Jorawar Singh, both posted at Gharinda police station in Amritsar, for allegedly peddling heroin.
The duo’s arrest came a day after Senior Superintendent of Police, Khanna, Gursharandeep Singh dismissed head constable Gagandeep Singh for peddling heroin. Gagandeep is accused of procuring heroin from Delhi and supplying it to two of his accomplices. Police had recovered 385 grams heroin from Gagandeep and another 400 grams from his two accomplices.
Another police head constable, Pritpal Singh, was dismissed last month in Nawanshahr after it was found that he allegedly had links with drug peddlers. Like Gagandeep, Pritpal too is accused of sourcing heroin. He allegedly used to procure the contraband from an African national in Delhi for supply in Punjab.
In June, Punjab Police dismissed ASI Sarabjit Singh, posted in Jalandhar, from service for allegedly helping drug peddlers. Investigators say Sarabjit was also a drug addict. Days before, Patiala police had dismissed head constable Amarjit Singh and constables Narinderpal Singh and Gurpartap Singh for their alleged involvement in drug trade.
As per the official data, beginning March 2017, when Congress stormed to power in Punjab, and till the end of July this year, 66 cases were registered against police officials for alleged involvement in drug trade. Eighty-eight police officials were named as accused in these cases. During this period, the STF too named six police officials as accused in five drug cases it registered.
The first major case against a man in khaki was registered by the STF in June 2017, about two months after its formation, in which Inspector Inderjit Singh was arrested in a drug trafficking case. Inderjit was subsequently dismissed from service. The STF had also quizzed then Moga SSP Rajjit Singh in connection with the case. The case was later withdrawn from the STF and handed over to a Special Investigation Team (SIT) following a plea by Rajjit Singh in the court.
Last year, Punjab government had dismissed DSP Daljit Singh Dhillon, also an international hockey player, after he was accused of luring a woman into consuming drugs and then raping her. Dhillon was granted bail by Punjab and Haryana High Court in November last year in the case.
“Government is very concerned and serious about any employee indulging in drug trafficking and peddling. It is taking strict action against such people. STF will continue to identify and take action against such people who are involved in drug trade,” STF chief ADGP Harpreet Singh Sidhu said.
Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) Dinkar Gupta said, “We are very clear on this. There will be zero tolerance policy. Anyone involved in drug supply, drug trade or drug abuse will face stringent action while ensuring that there is sufficient evidence of involvement an there is no witch hunt.”