Promise you won’t distribute drugs in polls, mobilise panchayats

Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, July 3: The charity is supposed to begin at home.

In the context of confronting the menace of drugs, the initiative should come from the members of the ruling class.

The political leaders should promise at the time of filing of nomination papers that they would not distribute drugs in elections. Money and drugs are distributed by the candidates in Punjab cutting across party lines and this is too well known a fact that the political parties don’t like to talk about.

It is only promise that is expected as the pledge taken by a politician can’t be trusted.

Capt Amarinder Singh made a mockery of the pledge that he made to the people with Gutka in his hand in the run up to the Assembly elections. In case he had acted on what he had said at that time, the situation might not have turned so grave when deaths due to drugs are now being reported almost every day in Punjab.

It is only after the politicians announce to make such promise  that the campaign against drugs might get further push.

The decision of the state government yesterday to recommend death penalty as deterrent to drug smuggling is regressive measure and moreover, it is already provided for in case the offence is repeated. The final decision  to amend the relevant act rests with the centre. It is more of a public posture by the government and not a concrete step.

The drug problem has both demand and supply dimensions. The government is focussing mainly on the supply side.

It is the demand side that has to be given equal, if not more, emphasis.

It is known almost in every village as to who are the addicts and who are the peddlers.

The government must involve panchayats in the campaign to confront this problem  on the demand side. The panchayats should be mobilised to convince the addicts to undergo de-addiction. This campaign should be incentivised. The incentive should be in money terms and the amount should be fixed by the government to be paid to the addict undergoing de-addiction for a fixed time period, with the scope to continue case wise.

De-addiction in itself is not the complete package as it is rehabilitation that must be part of it as otherwise there could be tendency to fall back. The families of druggists should be  made to realise that getting treatment is not a social stigma. This campaign can be carried out most efficiently with community participation. The alternative of panchayats in urban areas should be identified.

Voluntary mobilisation has already started at the village level with people taking out processions to create awareness. This campaign should be channelized after formulating comprehensive programme.

At the same time, the government must give out the signal that governance has been restored and it means business.

It is a fact that the police station incharge (SHO) invariably funds the MLA. There could be exceptions.

It is also a fact that the director general of police in Punjab can’t transfer the SHO and this has been so far the last about two decades, especially since 2007. This was stated by the police officers yesterday at the cabinet meeting.

Appointments at the middle level in the police department are made on the recommendation of the MLA. It is the discretion of the chief minister so far as the senior level is concerned.

Policing is on colonial pattern and one can’t expect professionalism under this system but even then, it would be in the interest of ruling classes that action is taken against some big fish in this business.

Mafia usually operates under politician-police patronage.

Editor-in-Chief

Jagtar Singh

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