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Censoring Udta Punjab won’t conceal truth

Top filmmakers attended a press conference to say that they stand with producer Anurag Kashyap’s “Udta Punjab”, and made a strong pitch for freedom of speech, attacking Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani, who has ordered 89 cuts in the film. Actually ahead of elections in Punjab, BJP is in no mood to expose drugs scenario in that state. Nihalani is BJP’s pet and to please his political masters, he has taken adequate steps by cutting the movie at length.

Earlier, Rahul Gandhi made a statement that 7 out of 10 youth are drug addicts which resulted in a heated argument from Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which is ruling party of the state. Rahul also proposed the youth to come and join hands with Congress and make a foray into politics for the betterment of the country. This evidently does not seem to be possible, at least, at the moment, but this can definitely pull seats for AAP. There are various allegations on Punjab government for breeding terror and drug trafficking. Variety of incidences, which takes place in the state, is due to youth, heading towards wrong direction.

There was also a hash tag post #DrugsMafiaMajithia, on twitter by AAP supporters against Punjab’s Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia. Daring Majithia to put him behind the bars, AAP national spokesperson Sanjay Singh commented that he continues to stick to his statement that ‘AAP will put Majithia behind the bars if voted to power as he is related to drug business in Punjab. Due to various issues and terror attack, drugs, flesh trading, arms, Badal government has lost its credibility and AAP could get strong foothold in the state. Meanwhile, Majithia has filed defamation plea against Sanjay Singh in Ludhiana court claiming that without any proof he has been defamed as ‘drug trader’ by Sanjay Singh. Majithia had said that ‘not he but Sanjay Singh will be put behind the bars for defaming him’. Anyway, after these allegation sagas no one went to jail or no one was actually exposed.

Murder, robbery, rape and even teasing incidents are common crimes occurring in the state; Rahul Gandhi has hit the nail. We can see how Punjab has lost the battle against drug addiction even before it has begun, a study by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, has indicated. It will take more than 10 years for the state government to provide even a single episode of treatment to addicts if it continues with the current strategies, the survey by the institute’s National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre says, painting a grim picture of the days ahead. A single episode of treatment is a standard course of treatment ranging from a minimum of four-to-six weeks to six months where the patient is given opioid substitution treatment (OST) that involves medication like methadone or buprenorphine to help him wean away from drugs. The study pointed out that Punjab does not have OST for the patients as a widely available therapy on a long-term basis. There is a huge gap in the availability of treatment services for opioid dependent individuals despite significant demand. OST is the most evidence-based treatment modality, which has been endorsed by United Nations and World Health Organisation as well as the Indian Psychiatric Society. In Punjab, less than 10% of patients have received OST ever, stated in the study.

The survey, commissioned by the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment in August 2015, has in fact ridiculed the approach by the Punjab government, saying that it is only focused on rehabilitation centres. At a time, when the nexus between terrorists and drug smugglers in Pakistan has come under a harsh spotlight after the Pathankot airbase attack, a new study by AIIMS has found that opioids worth Rs 7,500 crore are consumed in Punjab every year. Of these, heroin’s share is a massive Rs. 6,500 crore. This is a shocking disclosure given that almost all the heroin that comes to Punjab is through the Pakistan border, pumped in by smugglers allegedly aided by ISI. It is this smuggler network that the terrorists who attacked the Pathankot airbase are believed to have used.

Based on the previous studies, Punjab’s opioid dependents are four times more than the global average. In effect, not only are the drug smugglers being used to push jihadis into India, they are also creating an army of heroin addicts in Punjab. The study has found that 0.84% (around 2.3 lakh) of the entire state’s population is opioid dependent. It takes into account both opium derivatives as well as artificial substances that have the same effect as opiates on the nervous system.

The survey reveals that opioid-dependent people are spending approximately Rs. 20 crore daily on these drugs. On an average a heroin-dependent individual spends about Rs. 1,400 per day. The study – ‘Punjab opioid dependence survey: Estimation of the size of opioid dependent population in Punjab’ – was presented to Punjab health minister Surjit Kumar Jyani on January 6 but no action has been taken even today. The study was conducted between February and April 2015. Data was collected from 3,620 opioid dependents from 10 districts. Among the men aged between 18 and 35 years, four in 100 are opioid dependent; while 15 in 100 could be opioid users.

Drug smuggling cannot occur without the guard of police and politicians. Police protection cannot be assured without unspoken approval of politicians in power. Successive Punjab governments have turned a blind eye to drug smuggling because of the money that it brings and keeps the youth engaged so that they will never ask for their rights, Punjab youth either flee abroad or they are addicted to drugs, only 10% of youth are living on values in India.

Badal Government could have taken strict action against the police. Saninder Singh, the Gurdaspur SP against whom there are enough evidence of collaborating with the terrorists, would be good enough for starters. People would be watching what Badal government is doing. Drugs and terror are inseparably tied in Punjab. By censoring the movie fact cannot be hidden, rather they are creating curiosity among people by attracting attention through ongoing controversy.

(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on feedback@afternoonvoice.com)

Dr. Vaidehi Tamanhttp://www.vaidehisachin.com
Dr. Vaidehi is an Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and an Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. Since 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond the news (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which she caters for her sister-concern Kaizen-India Infosec Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

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