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Spare a thought for families destroyed by drug dealers: Himanta on criticism of ‘trigger happy’ cops

Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma reiterated that he has given the police “full operational freedom” to take the “toughest of actions” within the ambit of the law to deal with criminals.

Written by Tora Agarwala | Guwahati |
Updated: July 17, 2021 9:33:48 pm
Himanta, AssamAssam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma sets fire to the drugs seized by Assam Police, in Diphu, Karbi Anglong (Express photo)

Amid mounting criticism from the Opposition over the Assam government’s “extreme action against criminals”, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma Saturday said that his critics should spare a thought for the families that have been destroyed by drug dealers before denouncing the Assam Police as “trigger happy”.

“Many in the Assembly have raised the issue of police firings. I told them not to cry when one or two drug kingpins get hit by bullets in the leg… Think about the family, think about the social implication and the negative effect they have on society,” said Sarma, who was speaking in Karbi Anglong’s Diphu at the ‘Seized Drugs Disposal’ event, a two-day drive organised by the Assam Police to destroy narcotics (worth over Rs 163 crore) seized over the past couple of months.

Since Sarma took over in May, at least 23 people — many of whom were alleged drug peddlers, cattle smugglers and dacoits — have been shot at while in police custody, with five dead. While the Opposition has criticised the firings, bringing up the issue several times during the Budget session of the Assembly, Sarma reiterated that he has given the police “full operational freedom” to take the “toughest of actions” within the ambit of law to deal with criminals. “The Assam police will set its own boundaries — as long as they are within the law,” he said.

“We can’t allow an Udta Punjab, nor an Udta Assam,” he added, in reference to the 2016 Hindi film on drug abuse among youths in Punjab.

Sarma also said that many extremist organisations in the Northeast — barring ULFA (United Liberation Front of Assam) — were utilising innocent boys by making them “drug savvy”.

“Drug peddling is encouraging militancy and destroying the social fabric of our state,” he said, adding that the drug supply and consumption chain in the entire Northeast needs to be snapped.

Apart from Diphu, the Drugs Disposal campaign was also held in Golaghat. As part of the drive, 11.88 kg morphine, 2.89 kg crystal meth, 3.47 kg heroin, 102.91 kg cannabis and 2,03,384 tablets were burnt in Diphu, while 802 gm heroin, 1205 kg ganja, 3 kg opium and 206906 tablets were burnt in Golaghat.

Likening it to the ‘Meiji’ (structures of bamboo, straw, and hay) bonfires lit in Assam during Magh Bihu, Sarma said burning the seized drugs was like “burning away all evil in the fire”.

The drive will move to Hojai and Nagaon districts on Sunday.

In the last two months, as part of Sarma’s ‘War on Drugs’, 874 drug-related cases have been registered and 1,493 alleged drug dealers arrested.

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