There was hashtag #DrugsMafiaMajithia trending on twitter by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supporters against the Punjab’s Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia. Daring that to put him behind the bars, AAP National Spokesperson, Sanjay Singh commented that he continues to stick to his earlier statement that ‘AAP will put Majithia behind bars if voted to power in Punjab as they have evidence that Majithia is running a drugs racket business in Punjab. Due to various issues like drugs, flesh trading, arms supplying and terror attacks, Parkash Singh Badal government has lost its credibility in state and taking this chance AAP could get strong foothold here as they won four seats in the state in general elections 2014. Meanwhile, Majithia has filed defamation plea against Sanjay Singh in Ludhiana court claiming that without any proof, he has been defamed him as a ‘drug trader’. Majithia, while filing the case, said that ‘not he but Sanjay Singh will be put behind bars for defaming him. Only time will say who will go to jail and who will remain out.
The fact cannot be ignored that Punjab has become heaven for drugs; earlier Rahul Gandhi also 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 currently ruling the state. Gandhi also proposed the youth to come and join hands with Congress and be a part of politics and change their state. Evidently, this does not seem to be possible, at least for now, but it will definitely give some seats to AAP. Various incidences have taken place in Punjab, which drags youth in wrong direction. Murder, robbery, rape and eve teasing are common crimes 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 that 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 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 point 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 (UN) and World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as the Indian Psychiatric Society. In Punjab, less than 10 per cent 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 tha0t 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 the smuggler’s network that the terrorists who attacked the Pathankot airbase are believed to have used.
So far, security agencies have insisted that Pakistan’s heroines are not consumed in Punjab; it merely passes through to bigger cities like Delhi. However, this study – a first of its kind survey by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) at AIIMS – busts the myth. It says that in a population of around 2.77 crore people, there are more than 1.23 lakh heroin-dependent people.
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.
Running drugs racket and smuggling is impossible without the help 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 menace and smuggling continued because of the money that it brings and keeps the youth engaged in that and they will not ask for their rights. There are two options for Punjab youth, either they flee abroad or become drug addicts. Only 10 per cent 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. This would be a good enough start. People are watching every step of Badal government. Drugs and terror are inseparably tied in Punjab. If the Badal government fails to control this, there will be another Pathankot. And this time, the people are not in forget and forgive mood.
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