Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said he had sought a report on the allegations of involvement in
drugs against the new Moga SSP, but ruled out an inquiry against the state Director General of Police (DGP) and DGP (Intelligence) over allegations of shielding the former SSP Raj Jit Singh.
The Chief Minister made these statements in response to concerns expressed by an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) delegation which met him here to discuss the drugs menace in the state, particularly in the context of the recent spate of drug-related deaths.
Sharing the Opposition party’s concern over the problem, the Chief Minister said three big drug dealers who had fled India had been identified, and the police and other agencies were in pursuit of them. Assuring the AAP delegation that no laxity would be tolerated in curbing the drugs menace, the Chief Minister said strict action would be taken against anyone found involved in the drugs trade.
The Chief Minister briefed the AAP leaders about the Working Group formed by the Cabinet to monitor the action taken against drugs and also informed them about his decision to personally review the progress every Monday. Two CISF companies have been deployed in jails for frisking and security duties to check smuggling of drugs and weapons into the prisons, he further told the delegation.
On the Cabinet’s resolution on death sentence for drug peddlers and smugglers, the Chief Minister said his government wanted death penalty in the first instance of an offence itself, as against the current provision of death sentence for repeated offence.
The 12-member delegation demanded a court-monitored CBI inquiry and action on the STF report, to which the Chief Minister pointed out that the matter was before the court, which was already monitoring the action. In any case, several central agencies, including ED, had been involved in the investigations, said Captain Amarinder Singh.
On the demand for inquiry into allegations against DGP Suresh Arora and DGP (Intelligence) Dinkar Gupta, the Chief Minister described them as upright officers in whose honesty he had full faith.
The Chief Minister welcomed AAP’s assurance of full cooperation to his government in fighting the drug menace. He also assured protection for whistle-blowers and said the helpline for inviting information and feedback would be started soon.
The AAP leaders, who demanded a special Assembly session to discuss the issue, expressed concern over the easy availability of drugs in certain areas, as well as reports of sharing of drug money with police.
Describing the drugs menace as a social challenge, which started a decade ago due to large-scale unemployment and agrarian crisis, Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira said Captain Amarinder Singh and his government were not solely to blame for the situation.
No chief minister would ever want drugs becoming an issue for his regime, said Khaira, while welcoming the dismissal of the two police men accused of dragging women into drug abuse and peddling. While the STF had succeeded in building pressure the problem had assumed serious proportions, with police reportedly exploiting those who can pay and catching small-time peddlers, he added. Khaira expressed concern over the fact that not only were women being pulled into drug abuse but were also being turned into couriers.
On the issue of drug-related deaths, the delegation said they suspected intravenous injection of some concoctions by the addicts. Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann said the addicts could go to any extent to curb withdrawal symptoms. He was of the view that the Panches and Sarpanches in villages and Municipal Councillors in urban areas should be motivated to identify the drug addicts and those supplying drugs to innocent youth.
Besides Khaira and Mann, the delegation comprised AAP Punjab co-president Dr. Balbir Singh, and nine party MLAs.
Dr. Balbir Singh said that there was a dire need for surveillance of the activities of doctors treating the drug addicts, especially of private de-addiction centres, who were selling drugs under the guise of treating them.
Health Minister Brahm Mahindra stressed the need for motivating youth to combat the menace and create awareness.
The meeting was also attended by Chief Minister’s Media Advisor Raveen Thukral, Chief Principal Secretary Suresh Kumar and Political Secretary Sandeep Sandhu.