Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday warned criminal gangs operating in the state to either surrender or face action. In his first major interaction with the media after taking over the state’s reins in March this year, he said the police had been given free hand to deal with the gangs. The chief minister said the state government was also working on a fool-proof Punjab Control of Organised Crime Act (PCOCA) to deal with crime. DGP Suresh Arora, who was also present at the meet, said there were 49 criminal gangs with 240 members, in the state. Of them, 137 people were in jail, and the police was now pursuing the others.
Referring to the law and order situation in Punjab, Amarinder said the abolition of the ‘halqa system’ — set up by the previous SAD-BJP government — had led to considerable improvement.
Under the system police stations were aligned with Assembly segments.
The chief minister said judicial inquiry commissions set up to probe “false cases” and sacrilege incidents would soon submit their reports to enable the government to book the guilty.
Amarinder claimed the crime rate in the state had gone down.
He reiterated steps taken to eliminate a “VIP culture” in the state and allayed apprehensions of the introduction of VIP numbers for officers, saying that only ‘G’ would be added to government vehicle number plates.
“We are also doing away with hooters and sirens as they are also very troublesome,” he said.
Reiterating the government’s zero tolerance to drugs, the chief minister said the Special Task Force (STF) supported by the police and other state agencies had registered 3,845 cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) act till June 13.
He said that the STF had also arrested 4438 people and recovered more than 58 kgs of heroin along with other banned substances in the state.
“The drug traffickers have either left the state or they have become dormant, having lost the government patronage that they enjoyed during the previous regime,” he said.
The Amarinder Singh government has set up the STF under Additional Director General of Police Harpreet Sidhu to check the problem of drugs in the state.
In the run up to the Punjab Assembly elections, he had vowed to end the menace within four weeks of coming to power.