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Operation Red Flag: To play out soon in Punjab, a 100-day war on drug menace

Police to mark worst affected villages, wards under red flag category, work to make them drug-free in 100 days

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
Updated: September 8, 2021 1:24:10 pm
Chandigarh news, operation red flag, Punjab police, Punjab anti-drug campaign, Indian ExpressThe move to launch the ambitious programme comes at a time when the elections in the state are less than six months away. (File)

Amid constant criticism by the opposition parties where Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh is repeatedly targeted for his pre-2017 poll oath on gutka sahib to end drug problem in four weeks on party forming the government, the Congress government in Punjab has now planned “a 100-day Big Bang Programme” to project how the state’s war against the menace has reached its “pinnacle”.

As per the proceedings of a meeting of Punjab anti-drug campaign held on August 27, Suresh Kumar, the Chief Principal Secretary to the CM, suggested that under the Big Bang Programme, the state police chief can kick start an exercise named “Operation Red Flag”. Under the operation, the police department will mark villages, wards and areas worst affected by drug menace under a “red flag category” and make efforts to make them drug free in 100 days.

It was decided that at least one such programme should be started, which would “project state’s war against drugs reaching pinnacle and being impactful,” as per the proceedings of the meeting accessed by The Indian Express.

The broad contours of the Big Bang Programme, as per the decisions in the meeting, will focus on public outreach. A panel of Additional Chief Secretary (Home), DGP and ADGP-cum-chief of anti-drug Special Task Force has been asked to submit a proposal on the Big Bang Programme to the Chief Minister.

The move to launch the ambitious programme comes at a time when the elections in the state are less than six months away. Apart from the opposition, which leaves no stone unturned to target Amarinder Singh over his promise, the CM has also been facing criticism from within the party too. State Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu has repeatedly questioned the “inaction” of the party government and the previous Akali dispensation against those involved in drug trade. Sidhu also has demanded that the government make public the STF report on drugs.

As per the quarterly report on anti-drug campaign by June end, out of 16,117 villages and wards, only 3,967 are drug free, translating into 24.6 per cent. In 15 districts and police districts, out of total 28, less than 20 per cent villages and wards are drug free, as per the report. This includes Patiala, the home district of CM, where 203 villages and wards have been categorized as drug free out of total 1,208, translating into 16.8 per cent.

This also includes Muktsar district, the stronghold of Akali patriarch and former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal who represents Lambi in the Vidhan Sabha. Out of total 310 villages and wards in Muktsar, only 49 are drug free as per the report, making it 15.8 per cent of the total.

As per the report, out of 110 locations under Amritsar Police Commissionerate, none is drug free and only 46 out of 1,916 locations in Hoshiarpur (2.4 per cent); 25 out of 816 in Ferozepur (3.06 per cent); and 59 out of 764 in Ropar (7.7 per cent) are drug free.

Maximum drug free villages are in Moga district (432 out of total 443 making it 97.5 per cent) followed by Fazilka (500 out of 549 translating into 91.07 per cent).

On declaring villages, wards drug free

An official letter to all deputy commissioners, commissioners of police and senior superintendents of police by the STF ADGP in April 2019, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, referred to a meeting on March 19, 2019 chaired by CM’s Chief Principal Secretary in which it was “observed that some districts are declaring some villages and wards as drug free despite the fact that NDPS Act cases are being registered in these areas and drug addicts of these areas are undergoing treatment in the nearby de-addiction centres.”

The letter mentioned guidelines to declare villages and wards drug free from drug abuse victim point of view and drug trafficking point of view. It underlined the role and reports of Sub Divisional Mission Teams (SDMTs), Drug Abuse Prevention Officer (DAPOs) and Guardians of Governance (GoGs) before declaring any village or ward free from drug abuse victim point of view. To declare an area free from drug trafficking point of view, it pointed out among other parameters that no case under the NDPS Act or the Drugs and Cosmetics Act should have been registered in the village or ward for the past five years.

Other decisions taken in the meeting

ACS Home to hold meetings with concerned officials to chalk out strategy for:
How to do tapering of buprenorphine, the drug administered to addicts
Whether urine sampling of drug addicts could be initiated or not
Deciding protocols for dispensation of buprenorphine
Deciding protocols for dugs dispensation to females

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