Spokesman News Service, Chandigarh (10th Oct'18): Underlining the need for collaborative efforts to fight the menace, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday sought the continued support and assistance of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in fighting the drug problem, which he described as a strategic conspiracy unleashed from across the international border.
Rivulets in Punjab were being used to smuggle drugs as part of a strategic agenda that went beyond commercial reasons, said the Chief Minister, while delivering the keynote address at the inauguration of a 3-day Regional Workshop on ‘Combating Illicit Trafficking of Afghan Opiates: Developing a Comprehensive Approach’, organized here by UNODC and steered by UNODC Regional Office South Asia (ROSA) Sergey Kapinos.
Expressing the confidence that his government would succeed in destroying the drugs business, Captain Amarinder Singh called for team work to battle the menace, and said UNODC could play a pivotal role in this. He said UNODC could help the state by identifying the big sharks who had a stake in the drug business. While the STF and other agencies had been successfully in catching mid-level peddlers, the big suppliers need to be apprehended too, he said, adding that “we owe this to our future generations.”
The Chief Minister referred to the initiative taken by him to write to the chief ministers of the neighbouring states, which had led to the Haryana CM convening a meeting that had decided to set up a joint control room in Panchkula. Such collective efforts would help in destroying the drug racket, he asserted. Terming the drug problem as a very critical issue, that had been going for a long time in Punjab, the Chief Minister said the state had seen a shift from traditional use of marijuana (and to some extent opium) to synthetic stuff, which was posing a major threat.
The seizure of a consignment that had come from Mandavi in Gujarat into Punjab clearly suggested that the aim of the drug smugglers was to starve the Indian Army of precious manpower, thus weakening the country’s defence apparatus, said the Chief Minister. Referring to Facebook posts of young girls sniffing drugs, he expressed concern at the dangerous trend and said his government was going all out to deal with the problem.
The STF set up to tackle the menace had shown remarkable results, he said that since 01.04.2017, 18216 cases have been registered under the NDPS Act, 21489 persons have been arrested, 461 Kgs of Heroin. In short strong efforts have been made to break the supply chain of drugs. Additionally, 14 Kgs of Smack, 134 Kgs of Charas, 1040 Kgs of Opium, 63421 Kgs of Poppy Husk, 676 Kgs of Bhang, 9 Kgs of Ice, 3369 Kgs of Ganja, 225 Kgs of Intoxicant Powder, 8950421 Pills/Capsules and 76114 Injections have been recovered.
Large sums of money were involved in the business, as was evident from these seizures, said Captain Amarinder Singh, pointing out that even a BSF constable had been caught for complicity. Earlier, Kapinos said while UNODC had been working in several countries around India for crime prevention and in combating illicit drug trafficking and organized crime, this was the first such workshop in the region. Citing figures from `Aghanistan Opium Survey 2017’, he said the area under opium poppy cultivation and opium production in Afghanistan reached a record high in 2017.
The area under cultivation went up to 328,000 hectares from an estimated 201,000 hectares in 2016. Each year, thousands of tons of opium are produced in Afghanistan and then converted into heroin to reach end-consumer markets around the globe, as per the report. Prominent amongst others present on the occasion included Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Financial Advisor to CM V.K. Garg, Additional Chief Secretary Home N. S. Kalsi, DGP Suresh Arora, STF Chief Mohammad Mustafa, Special Principal Secretary to CM Harpreet Singh Sidhu, ADGP Community Policing Ishwar Singh, IG STF R.K. Jaiswal and IG STF Pramod Ban.