September 2, 2014 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Chandigarh/ Punjab (September 02, 2014): Former DGP (Prisons) who is pushing forward a drive against drugs trade and abuse in Punjab has demanded compensation for, and rehabilitation of, the families of victims of drug abuse.
Shashi Kant’s letter to the Chief Secretary of the Government of Punjab reads as follows:
The Chief Secretary
Government of Punjab
Punjab Civil Secretariat
Sector 1, Chandigarh
Subject: Drug crisis in Punjab, compensation to the families of victims of drug abuse and rehabilitation thereof
I, Shashi Kant I.P.S. (Retd) do hereby request the Government of Punjab, through your good self, on my, as also on behalf of the families of victims of drug abuse in Punjab, particularly those, who have lost at least one family member each on account of the massive, monstrous and real drug menace prevailing in Punjab because of which innumerable number of youth and other individuals have lost their lives, leaving their shattered and helpless families behind. Unfortunately, on account of the apathetic attitude of the Punjab Government, no exact figures of the loss of such lives are available, but as per the information on the net, almost an entire generation of youth is lost in Punjab. It indicates that ‘one in three college students are addicts, and up to 75 percent of the youth population has been exposed to drugs in one form or another. More than 60% school going children, sometimes as young as 13 having taken drugs at one point of time or the other’. Even Punjab government’s affidavit, of 2009, given to the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court states that 67% rural households of Punjab have at least one addict in the family. A study of June 2011 and available on the net, pegs the drug addiction to more that 70%. Agreeably there can be some difference in the percentages given by one report or the other but the fact remains that even the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drug and Crime) considers Punjab as a very his prevalence area both for drugs and AIDS and as such they, after a nationwide survey, had started two Methadone Treatment centers (O.S.T. programme) in Kapurthala and Bhatinda towards the end of 2011. To my knowledge, the UNODC has selected only seven centers all over the country and of them these two were in Punjab.
2- I, Shashi Kant, am an Anti Drug activist and have locus standi on this issue and am also a party to some ongoing anti drug related cases which are going on in the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court. I am also planning to move the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India on a drug related issue.
I, Shashi Kant, was, as per the verbal orders of the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court directed to assist the court in CWP-2011 (O&M), Tarlochan Singh vs. State of Punjab and others and had also submitted a report, on this issue, to the honourable D.B. No. 1. This case is about the unfortunate open availability of drugs in the prison houses of Punjab. Later I had also submitted a letter petition to this honourable bench which was very graciously accepted as CWP-20359-2013 (O&M); Court on its own motion vs. State of Punjab. This case, which is about the need to curb the availability of drugs in the open society in Punjab on account of administrative and political connivance, is still being heard. It is also a fact that I am the ‘whistle blower’ on the issue of rampant smuggling and availability of drugs both within the prison houses as also the open society, which has resulted in the death of an extremely high number of youth and others in Punjab. I had raised this issue way back in 2007 when I was still in service and was posted as Additional Director General of Police (intelligence) and when I first saw and systematically studied the drug menace in the state from such close quarters. It was when I had also supplied a very detailed list of leading drug smugglers of Punjab, to the chief minister. Unfortunately the Punjab government ignored my warnings and did not even sincerely try to curb the drug menace, probably because a large number of politicians belonging to various political parties are, as per the said list, involved in the drug smuggling. Unfortunately it also failed to even to quantify extent of the drug problem or deaths on account thereof, again, because of the direct and indirect involvement of high ranking politicians and others in the drug trade. Yes, some stage managed dramas have been in place off and on but the youth and others continue to die on account of drugs in Punjab.
3- Situation on ground: To understand the enormity of the problem, a narration of the situation on ground is necessary. Punjab is in the grip of a drug epidemic, on account of massive smuggling of heroin and smack from across the international border besides the ‘ingenious’ production of synthetic drugs as reveled by recent Kandola and Jagdish Bhola cases. I would like to draw your attention to one the penal discussions on a T.V. channel, in which I, along with a prominent journalist, the anchor and a politician about whom, it is, somehow alleged he is in the ‘know of the things’, had participated. This politician was, off the record, asked about the quantum of the narcotics smuggling into the state. Without batting an eye lid, he blurted out, ‘more that 1000Kgs a month. It means as per the international value of heroin, it is Rs.5000 Crores a month. Annually it will be about Rs.60,000 Crores. And that too from one border only, that is Amritsar. There are other places as well along the border through which the smuggling takes place. Besides this, the Kandola and the Bhola cases talk about the smuggling of synthetic drugs worth more that 20 or 25 thousand of crores per anum. Then there are Pharmaceutical drugs. Thus the entire quantum of drug smuggling comes to about Rs. 100,000 Crores per anum. So this isn’t stories about rich boys scoring heroin or coke, or some poor farmers languishing quietly in the throes of an opium haze. This is the real thing: schoolboys hooked on opium balls, poppy husk, heroin, smack, psychotropic and synthetic drugs; young men who shoot up in hovels, streets littered with empty syringes and burnt foils and these young men getting ‘high’ to glory and some villages “widowed” by drug use. Maqboolpura, in Amritsar, is the lively example. Many children have lost whole lot of relatives because of drug-related deaths. A number of women and their children all over the state are now themselves acting as couriers of this deadly poison on account of the continued apathy of the governments of the times. These families have a vicious and disputed choice between the possible starvation deaths or of themselves becoming couriers of death to get food for their hungry stomachs. Unemployment and frustration amongst youth is one of the primary causes for the drug addiction. Regular ‘mandies’ are said to be existing in the state, for the sale of narcotics as also of psychotropic and synthetic drugs and the entire world, except the Punjab Government knows about it. The Punjab government has been deliberately sleeping and no attempt has ever been made by it to quantify the problem. It has indeed brought immense shame on the Punjab Government on the international scene. The story of neglect and indifference of the Punjab Government is making headlines both at home and abroad.
4- Prayer; Given this unfortunate ground level situation, I, Shashi Kant, an anti drug activist would like to draw the attention of the Government of Punjab to the fact that the drug glut and consequent deaths on account thereof, besides the miserable conditions of the families of such youth who have either died because of the drugs are suffering on account thereof is because both of the indifference and the failure of the Punjab Government to control this menace. Most of these youth and their families are either directly or indirectly paying tax to the Government of Punjab and even if we keep the concept of the ‘welfare state’ at bay, the Punjab Government, account of its failure to curb the drug trade and availability thereof, is grossly responsible for the horrendous condition of such youth and their families. It can not escape its responsibility and need to pay adequate compensation to such victims and their families besides rehabilitating the. The Punjab government has been paying compensation and / or rehabilitating victims of the natural or other calamities. So why is it shirking its responsibility to compensate and rehabilitate the victims of drugs who are suffering squarely on account of its failure to curb the drug trade and drug availability in Punjab. In case of those addicted to drugs, they need to be totally de- addicted and in case of those who have succumbed to this menace, they need to compensate the families monetarily. And in both categories aggrieved families need to be rehabilitated as well by giving suitable employment to at least of the able bodied members of such families.
I am sure, Mr. Chief Secretary that you will do the needful on this issue within a period of one month that is by October 2, 2014 failing which I reserve the right to move the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court to get requested relief for such affected families.
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