August 18, 2021 8:11:48 am
More persons have been arrested ad more recoveries of heroin, in terms of quantity, made under the incumbent Congress government in Punjab than under the previous SAD-BJP regime, a comparison of a 51-month period has revealed. This despite the fact that nearly equal number of cases were registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act under the two governments.
This as per the official data accessed by The Indian Express for period between January 1, 2013 to March 31, 2017 – when the Akali Dal led government was in power – and April 1, 2017 to June 30, 2021, under the current Congress led dispensation.
A senior retired Punjab Police officer said that the more arrests and more recoveries indicate that the crackdown had been more effective, irrespective of the nearly same number of cases registered.
Punjab anti-drug Special Task Force (STF) chief Harpreet Singh Sidhu said comprehensive action against drug abuse led to more arrests and more recoveries. He added that “multi-sectoral approach implemented by the STF also led to de-addiction and rehabilitation of addicts on a massive scale”.
Addressing people of Punjab from Amritsar after unfurling the Tricolur on Independence Day, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh claimed that 47,510 cases have been registered under the NDPS Act and 216 ‘big fish’ – arrested so far. He said more than 7 lakh patients are undergoing treatment as part of the drug de-addiction programme.
Ending 10-year rule of the SAD-BJP government, Congress had stormed to power in Punjab on March 11, 2017.
As per the official figures, as many as 46,746 cases under NDPS Act were registered by the district police, State Special Operations Cell (SSOC) and Government Railway Police in the 51-month-period between January 1, 2013 to March 31, 2017.
For the similar number of months, 46,273 cases were registered between April 1, 2017 to June 30, 2021 by the district police, SSOC, GRP and the anti-drug STF that was constituted by Amarinder Singh to end the menace of drugs in Punjab.
The figures show a decrease of 1 per cent in the cases registered under NDPS Act in 51 months ending June 30 this year as compared corresponding period ending March 31, 2017.
However, while 55,117 persons were arrested in the NDPS cases and 1,683 kg of heroin recovered during the 51-month period under the previous government; for the corresponding period under the Congress rule, 60,025 arrests have been made and recovery of 2,089 kg of heroin done, registering a an increase of 8.9 per cent and 24.1 per net, respectively.
After Congress formed government in the state and constituted STF, a slew of measures were put in place to combat the problem of drugs by focusing on enforcement, de-addiction and prevention.
There are now 202 Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) Centres in Punjab with a registration of 2.25 lakh patients. The total OPD footfall has been 3.64 crore.
As per Sidhu, in addition to the OOAT Centres, which include 11 in jails, 54 government de-aadiction and rehabilitation centres and 224 in private sector are functional with a cumulative total of over 7 lakh patients registered for treatment.
Sidhu added that property related to drug traffickers worth over Rs 212 crore had been frozen under chapter V-A of NDPS Act.
As per the official data presented in the meeting of anti drug campaign earlier this month, 6.28 lakh drug abuse prevention officers (DAPO) have already contacted over 11.33 lakh people to make them aware of ill effects of drugs and provided literature on the subject.
In the buddy programme, focused on students to spread awareness and ill effects of addiction, 9.51 lakh groups in various educational institutions have been formed and more than 43.5 lakh students have enrolled as buddies.
The DAPO and buddy programme had taken a backseat during the Covid pandemic, but as per an official, the government is now trying to revive it, by ensuring that Covid protocols were followed.
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