Amid political leaders across party lines going to government hospitals to get their dope tests done after Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s order of mandatory examination of all government employees, questions are being raised on the method being used to check long-term addiction.
“Politicians have been coming for the general test on their own. We have no protocol to conduct such dope tests,” said Brij Bhushan, SMO at Ajnala Civil Hospital, where Congress MLA Harpartap Ajnala went on Friday. Other Congress leaders, including MLA Harminder Singh Gill from Patti and MPs Ravneet Singh Bittu and Gurjit Singh Aujla also volunteered for the dope test.
Generally, urine screening kits, normally used to conduct the dope tests on applicants seeking arms licences, are being used.
Dr P D Garg, head of the psychiatry department at Government Medical College, Amritsar, said these kits can check presence of 10 different drugs in urine. “Apart from these tests, we also examine the behaviour of the arms lisence applicant before giving a certificate if he or she is clean,” said Dr Garg.
Technically, the urine test kits can only provide positive results in case the person under screening has taken the habit-forming drugs in the last one to five days and results also depends upon how much water one has drunk.
These kits can find traces of Amphetamine for 72 hours, Benzodiazepines for 84 hours, Propoxyphene for 72 hours and all types marijuana, Morphine, Codeine, Barbiturates, cocaine, Buprenorphine and Tramadol for maximum five days after the consumption by subject.
Though AAP called the idea of the dope test a gimmick, some of the party MLAs also got themselves examined.
AAP MLA Aman Arora said he didn’t know that these kits could only find traces of drugs consumed in the last five days. “I went to conduct the test after some media persons challenged me after Congress minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa went for the dope test on Thursday. Otherwise, the idea of the dope test is to distract the attention from the failure of the government on the drug issue.” he said, adding that he also assumed that liquor addiction was covered as well under the dope test conducted on him.
AAP MLA from Maur Jagdev Singh Kamalu said, “I have got the dope test done because there was a call from our leader MLA H S Phoolka.”
Leader of Opposition, AAP MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira echoed Arora: “The dope test is an attempt to change the political discourse on the main issue. Dope test is always sudden. You drink excess water and possibly you will clear the dope test.”
He said it is fine if some AAP MLAs are going for the test, but it is not a solution. “What is the logic of conducting the test on 3 lakh staff. There are allegations that police are involved in drug smuggling. You must conduct surprise tests on them. Sometimes gimmicks overrule the discourse in Punjab,” said Khaira.