Punjab’s drug haven

Daulewala Village turns into a drug market every evening.

Written by Goyal Divya | Daulewala (moga) | Updated: April 11, 2014 6:06:43 pm

It may not enjoy the fame and popularity of Malana — the village in Himachal Pradesh,which draws both tourists and drug addicts alike in droves for its famed cannabis — but that doesn’t take away the credit,in a perverse way,from Moga’s Daulewala village.

Here’s why. At least one person from each of the 400 odd household in this village are into drug trade. Nearly 150 residents are in jail,arrested under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and another 100 are proclaimed offenders.

Much like it happens in Malana,drug addicts from as afar as Chandigarh start arriving at the village at sun down. The “traders”,all from the village,reach the Chowk their wares — chitta (heroine) and doda (poppy husk) — as do the buyers and haggling over the price begins. From rickshawpulers to Mercedes wallahs and from farmers to college students all queue up here for the best deals.

The village youth,their faces covered,even demonstrate the right way a drug should be consumed.

Service on call

If a buyer does not wish to enter the village,for obvious reasons,some midddlemen,charge Rs 200-Rs 300 and get him his “order” from the village. Pay a little extra and they will also get the contraband checked for purity.

“Our village is called Mini Chandigarh. People from states like Haryana,Himachal Pradesh,Jammu and Kashmir come here to buy drugs,” says a village resident,his identity hidden behind a cloth mask.

Bargain offers

As The Indian Express team,posing as buyers,entered the village,deals were offered and made easily. A 50-year-old was ready to sell a 10 gm packet of heroin for Rs 2,000,even as another one offered the same for Rs 1,800 and even guaranteed the contraband’s purity.

“We have anything you want and in whichever quantity. Right from heroine,poppy husk,smack and opium to capsules and injections,we supply everything,” said a “trader”,not revealing his identity.

Situated as it is near the international border,the Daulewala villagers have easy access to the contraband from both Pakistan and neighbouring Rajasthan. The easy availability of the contraband can be gauged from the fact that a few months aback,some village children were caught supplying drugs in their school bags.

“It all started with some youth bootlegging liquor from nearby areas. Soon they diversified into heroine and poppy turning this village into druggies’ heaven. At present,more than 150 people from village are in jail,another 100 are proclaimed offenders and absconding,” says Ranjit Singh Bhola,the Akali sarpanch of the village.

No end to misery

The families of those in jail and those-on-the-run,Bhola says,is leading a miserable life with women forced to make the ends meet by working in the fields. With around 80 per cent of its population engaged in drug peddling,several heads of families in jails,most women have even stopped waiting for their husbands to return.

Raj Kaur and Satwant Kaur,sisters-in-law,(their husbands Angrej Singh and Bakshish Singh respectively in jail for the last seven years),are two such women. “We have stopped waiting for them now. We sell milk and plough fields on our own. Together,we have four daughters and a son and one of our daughters suffers from spinal cord damage and now she can never walk,” says Satwant Kaur.

“Families are getting destroyed and if the trend continues,the youth of this village in particular,and Punjab in general will be finished,” says the sarpanch,whose efforts to make things better have gone futile.

In the last four years,the village has witnessed at least 10 youth in the age group of 20 to 25 years,mostly,families claims,due to drug overdose.

Incidentally,several women too have joined the drug trade to augment their income. “Right now,more women than men are into drug trade. It is an easy option as even selling small quantities gets them handsome profits,” says Swaran Singh. The 24-year-old- youth has already spent five years in jail and his brother too is lodged in Faridkot jail.

Where’s police

What boggles the mind is absence of any police team at the village despite the fact that it is a known drug haven. Some villagers claim that even the police officials come to village in civil clothes to buy drugs.

As per the villagers,a youth drug peddler was not let off by the police team after allagdly taking bribe of Rs 2 lakh. “The police team,including the CIA staff and men from anti-narcotics cell, conducted a raid recently and recovered 100 kgs poppy husk from the youth’s possession. But after taking Rs 2 lakh from him,and recovering two cars,the police let him g. It happened in front of our eyes,” alleges a villager requesting anonymity.

Another villagers chips in. “Even if police takes an action,the culprits are often released within hours as they (addicts) start showing withdrawal symptoms and fall ill. The policemen fear that they will be held responsible for custodial deaths and let them go,” he says.

Incidentally,despite orders from IG Nirmal Singh Dhillon several months back to set up a police check post in the village,it has not been done owing to “lack of space.”

“We were not allotted space by the village panchayat for the check post. But we have launched 24-hour patrolling in the area. Raids are conducted and recoveries made. We are trying to control the situation,” says Jagtar Singh,SHO,Fategarh Panjtoor.

He adds that the police teams face problems in the area as “as womken and children also are into both drugs and the trade,”

SSP Surjit Singh Grewal,too,reiterated that the “police is trying its best to control the situation in the village.”

However,sarpanch Ranjit Singh Bhola says,“Sometimes police even slaps false cases on villagers just because Daulewala is famous for drugs and now the families of those arrested are suffering.”

Panacea?

He says that some youth from the village,who pursued graduation and other higher degrees,“have migrated from the village after selling their homes”.

“In a way they have done the right thing. After all,what could have their children learnt in the village apart from the names of various drugs,” Bhola adds.

Swaran Singh,who returned from the jail and is a father of two,sums up what ails the village. “All we want is employment. I do not have any source of income and I am illiterate. Give me job and I will leave this trade,” he says.

Is the government even listening?

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