Punjab Drug News: Narcotic drugs, overdose deaths increase the problems of the state Chandigarh News

CHANDIGARH: Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has vowed to make Punjab a drug-free state by next Independence Day, but the ground reality is otherwise. Despite the “best efforts” of various wings of the state government since the formation of the Anti-Narcotics Special Task Force (STF), Congress In April 2017, the government, the state failed to achieve the desired results in controlling drug use and overdose deaths.

Drug recovery.

Official figures testify that at least 184 drug-related deaths have occurred since March last year, when the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came to power with a landslide majority of 92 seats. FIRs have been registered. Section 304 of IPC (culpable homicide not murder) against drug dealers. There may be many drug deaths in which Section 304 has not been invoked. This is because many cases go unreported as families opt for cremation without post-mortem or informing the police.
Drug abuse among the 18-35 year age group, one of the most productive years of a human being, has reached alarming levels over the years, adding to the crime rate on the social fabric of the state. have increased, and are burdening health infrastructure and prisons.
Its pattern
August 13: Widow Chiranjit Kaur (40) of village Fatuhiwala in Muktsar district lost her two sons – Chanan Singh (21) and Jaswinder Singh (19) to a drug overdose within a month and her youngest. Fearing for his life, the 17-year-old son is also a drug user, so the Nisha Varodhi Committee of Fatuhiwala and Singhwala villages took out a protest march urging the state government to take action against the vendors. Chiranjeet’s brother-in-law’s son is also addicted to drugs.
July 29: The body of Kuldeep Singh (22) of Maniwal village in Ludhiana was found in a graveyard on Ropar Road. Machhiwada With a syringe in his arm. Kuldeep was admitted to rehab twice, but relapsed.
July 1: Gurwinder Singh (24), a drug addict, killed his widowed mother. Paramjit Kaur (51), in Kangthala village of Patran in Patiala district with a sharp weapon and dismembered the body before setting it on fire because the mother refused to give him money for drugs. On the same day, he killed his half-brother Jaswinder Singh with the same weapon and took money from his pocket.
June 30: The body of Nirmal Singh (23) of Maduk Berar village in Amritsar was found outside Khiala village. The family claimed that he died due to intoxication. Earlier, two of his brothers had also lost their lives due to drugs.
An average of 45 arrests per day
Since the Punjab government launched a ‘decisive war on drugs’ since July 2022, enforcement agencies have arrested a total of 19,093 drug traffickers and peddlers, an average of 45 suspects per day, records show. are In all, 14,179 FIRs have been registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act from July 5, 2022 to September 1 this year, or 33 FIRs per day. Government data show some clear findings on the enforcement side. The state police arrested an average of 39 suspects per day and registered 31 FIRs per day till the end of the first three years of the formation of the anti-narcotics STF till 2020.
However, experts say more needs to be done on the addiction recovery and recovery front, and even prevention. At the same time, overcrowding has led to overcrowding in all 25 state prisons, an average of 117 percent, or 30,391 inmates against the authorized capacity of 26,081. More than 42 percent of these facilities house defendants who are facing drug charges or who have been convicted of one. Some prisons are holding inmates twice their capacity. In April this year, the District Jail at Ropar housed 1,151 inmates against a capacity of 473 (243% overcrowding), the sub-jail at Fazalka held 96 prisoners against a capacity of 48 (200% overcrowding). Mallirkotla was the sub-jail. 293 prisoners against a capacity of 170 (172% overcrowding).
Although the previous Congress government led by Capt Amarinder Singh also exempted drug addicts caught with small quantities of banned substances from prosecution if they seek medical treatment (as per Section 64A of the NDPS Act). Talking about giving, no action was taken. To date on earth has been taken in this direction.
200 women enrolled in Kapurthala in 5 years.
The first and only 15-bed, government-run de-addiction center exclusively for women — Nav Kiran Kendra — was inaugurated in June 2018 at the Civil Hospital in Kapurthala. Since then, nearly 200 women have enrolled as inpatients at the center. Most of them were heroin users. Earlier, the health facility had one to two female in-patients at a given time. But, till date, it has nine inpatients. All of them were injecting heroin. In addition, around 30 women are coming as outpatients to an Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) center in Kapurthala.
Dr Sandeep Bhola, in-charge of the de-addiction center and psychiatric department at Civil Hospital, Kapurthala, said more awareness about prevention and treatment was needed as many patients were not registered anywhere. Women from lower socio-economic classes, and even those who can afford private hospitals or de-addiction centers, visit their hospitals, he said. They also include alcohol dependents who are suffering from health complications, he said.
“There are many sex workers who avoid coming here because drug use is a solution for them. Sometimes, their clients bring them to the hospital,” Dr Bhola said. The main reasons for coming out for treatment in numbers are social stigma, lack of awareness about where to go for treatment and women are still dependent on men.
Conviction rates improve.
The conviction rate of accused in cases under the NDPS Act has improved to 80.7%. The state police had managed to achieve a 68% conviction rate in these cases till June 2020.
Since public outcry forced the state government to crack down on policemen involved in the drug trade, 75 policemen have been sacked since 2017. Other disciplinary action has been taken against 211 police personnel for involvement in drug cases.
The police has also taken action against 272 of its personnel since 2017 for not submitting challans to the concerned courts within the stipulated period in drug cases due to which the drug smugglers used to get bails. Of these, 25 inspectors, 28 sub-inspectors and 37 ASIs are guilty.
A departmental inquiry is also underway against 40 inspectors, 44 sub-inspectors, 51 ASIs and one head constable in such cases. The Punjab government had on April 17 sacked former Moga SSP Rajjit Singh Handal, who is still absconding, for alleged involvement in drug racket, extortion and anti-national activities. Ferozepur DSP Diljit in July 2018 Singh Dhillon Women were fired for pushing them into drugs.
The state police, along with the Border Security Force (BSF), managed to recover 65 drones used to transport consignments of drugs, arms and ammunition and currency from hostile neighbor Pakistan to Punjab since March 16, 2022. has been Enforcement agencies have also seized a total of 116 properties of drug traffickers worth over Rs 45 crore in 22 districts of the state since April 2022.
No treatment? A new habit for Buprenorphine addicts
Over 2.65 lakh patients are registered in government de-addiction centers and OOAT clinics, while over 6.2 lakh are registered in private de-addiction centers across Punjab. But, worryingly, they are not being weaned off the addictive drug Buprenorphine, which is provided free of charge by the OOAT clinic. People now call these clinics Sarkari Thika (Government Vend). A scheduled drug under the NDPS Act, buprenorphine is a pharmacological derivative of opiates and is administered as a home dose under opioid substitution therapy (OST).
Punjab Health and Family Welfare Minister Balbir Singh has also expressed concern over the low rate of treatment of drug dependent patients.
Highlighting this during the budget session this year, he told the House that from 2017 till February this year, only 3,810 such patients were cured in government health facilities and only 296 in private de-addiction centres. He also informed that the state government has spent around Rs 102 crore on the purchase of Buprenorphine till February this year.
Dr. Atul Ambekar, a professor at the National Drug Dependence Treatment Center at AIIMS in New Delhi, believes that the success parameter of buprenorphine treatment is that the patient continues his treatment and remains fit and healthy as a diabetic patient. or blood pressure. “We should not judge the success of a buprenorphine treatment program by the number of patients who are able to stop,” he said, adding that the indicator is also adopted internationally. But, he says, drug overdose deaths are alarming and the opioid overdose antidote, the life-saving injection Naloxone, should be readily available.
He also advocates treating drug addicts as patients rather than criminals. He added that reducing the stigma of injecting behavior among patients, increasing awareness of where to seek treatment and rewarding those who save the lives of such patients could help curb the drug scourge. will get
Questions on the effectiveness of Dapo and friend initiatives
Launched on March 23, 2018 during the previous Congress government, the Drug Abuse Prevention Officer (Dapo) program aims to cover every village or area, with community participation to prevent drug abuse at the household level. imagines Till date, more than 6.2 lakh Dapos are registered across the state. They include 1.6 lakh personnel including 57 transgenders and 4.6 lakh civilian volunteers.
But there are questions that ask why, if there are so many drug-related deaths and drug-trafficking incidents, they continue unabated.
Punjab Education Department on 15th August 2018 launched a friend program to prevent drug abuse among the youth, especially students, by providing them with knowledge, behavioral skills and a system for self or group supervision and support. prepared. The program was relaunched on 9 October 2022 under the AAP government. According to official data, the number of buddy groups in the state is 8.6 lakh in 17,416 government and private educational institutions under the jurisdiction of the education department. The state government claims that over 2.16 lakh programs have been organized so far under this initiative.

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