The drug menace in Punjab appears to have taken a toll on its jails too. Of the 26,000 inmates lodged in the state’s overcrowded prisons — the official capacity is 19,000 — 47 per cent are undertrials and convicts jailed under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, data compiled by the Punjab Jails department shows.
In some jails, the number of inmates lodged under the NDPS Act is even more than the jail’s sanctioned capacity. Take, for example, Moga sub-jail, which has a capacity of only 46 inmates but lodges 142, 63 of whom have been booked under NDPS Act. Or Roopnagar district jail, which has sanctioned capacity of 275 but houses 660 inmates — 283 of them booked under the Act.
Since several inmates booked under the Act are also addicts, many prisons have turned into “de-addiction centres”. According to data from November 2011 to August 2015, as many as 29,590 inmates were “treated” in drug de-addiction centres run in central jails in Kapurthala, Patiala, Ludhiana, Bathinda, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Ferozepur and the Modern Central Jail at Faridkot.
“We have been able to achieve very good results in terms of treating addict inmates in de-addiction centres in jails. We have also pressed sniffer dogs into action to check drugs in jails. Officials with sniffer dogs randomly visit jails to make seizures,” said Deputy Inspector General, Jails, Punjab, Lakhminder Singh Jakhar.
Of the inmates lodged in jails under the NDPS Act, 8,513 are undertrials, while 3,787 are convicts. Of the total 26,000 people lodged in jails, 15,424 are undertrials while the rest are convicts.