CM BATS FOR REGISTRATION OF DRONES TO CHECK ITS USE FOR DRUG PEDDLING
Chandigarh: Apprising the Union Home Minister Amit Shah about the stupendous steps being taken by the state government in war against drugs, the Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Monday batted for more stringent provisions in existing laws to check this scourge.
Taking part in virtual meeting on ‘Drug Trafficking and National Security’ chaired by the Union Home Minister, Bhagwant Mann apprised him that Punjab is the first State to constitute a Special Task Force and STF Police Station to effectively implement laws against drug trafficking, apprehending drug traffickers and disrupting the supply chain. The Chief Minister said that the state government has adopted a three-pronged strategy of Enforcement-Deaddiction-Prevention (EDP) against the drug menace. He said that the EDP comprises Enforcement of laws against drug trafficking, Deaddiction of victims of drug abuse and Prevention through protection of vulnerable sections, students, youth and the general public.
The Chief Minister further said that a specialized Anti-Narcotic Cell has been constituted in each district and special Designated Courts have been set in each district for speedy trial of NDPS Act cases. Likewise, he said that a Forensic Science Laboratory has been set up at SAS Nagar and three Regional FSL at Ludhiana, Bathinda and Amritsar for testing of drugs. Bhagwant Mann said that the state government has allotted a plot measuring 2000 square yards to the Narcotics Control Bureau and approval for 2.5 acre of land at Amritsar has been issued for construction of Regional Office, Zonal Residential Centre and dedicated Narco Forensic Science Laboratory.
The Chief Minister said that drug smuggling in Punjab is taking across the border Pakistan, Gujarat, Delhi, Rajasthan and Jammu & Kashmir. He demanded that registration drones should be made compulsory as it is a matter of grave concern that drones are now being used for cross border delivery of Weapons/Heroin/Explosives. Bhagwant Mann said that Police has been very vigilant to check supply of drugs to drones and since 2019, a total 491 drone sightings have been observed and 51 drones have been neutralized/recovered.
Giving suggestions for far more effective control over the drug menace, the Chief Minister advocated that anti drone technology/Jammers be installed on the entire international border of Punjab with Pakistan so that smuggling of drugs and weapons be stopped. Likewise, he said that a state-of-the-art Regional Drone Forensic Lab may be set up in Punjab preferably at Amritsar so that the origin, destination and route maps of the drones may be traced out. Bhagwant Mann also sought access to Custom Database so that suspected containers coming from other countries may be scrutinized from drug smuggling point of view.
The Chief Minister also batted for reduction of commercial quantity of heroin from existing 250 grams to 25 grams to check peddling at intermediate level. He further said that substantive rank Head Constable should be empowered to exercise the power and perform the duties specified in respect of cases falling within the definition of ‘Small Quantity’ and section 27 of Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substances Act. Bhagwant Mann said that this will increase the number of Investigating Officers and decrease pendency of under Investigation cases adding that present property confiscation limit of 6 years should be removed by amending section 68-C(2) of NDPS act.
The Chief Minister also sought an amendment in section 39(1) and 64A of the Act thereby decriminalization of recovery of small quantities to differentiate between victims and peddlers. He said that the Union government must liberally allocate funds to states and UTs for capacity building of the Forensic Science Lab (FSL). Bhagwant Mann said that this will help the states in wiping out the menace of drugs from the state thereby saving our younger generations from its scourge.
The Chief Minister said that a total of around 1000 kg of Heroin along with 56 Hand Grenades, 126 Pistols/Revolvers, 11 AK-47 and other Rifles, 9.5 kg of RDX have been recovered from drone-based deliveries till May 16, 2023. He said that after assuming charge of office his government has adopted a zero tolerance policy against drugs and since April 1, 2022 till July 13, 2023, 16554 cases have been registered under NDPS Act and 22,349 smugglers have been arrested. Bhagwant Mann said that property valuing 26.72 crore in 66 proposals of drug money have been frozen by the competent authority.
The Chief Minister further said that as part of Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (PITNDPS) Act 1988 an advisory board has been constituted and duly vetted proposals ready for onward submission to the Detaining Authority. He said that it is a matter of great pride and satisfaction that conviction Rate in NDPS Act cases in Punjab during 2022 was 80% which is highest in the Country. Bhagwant Mann further said that the number of Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) clinics has been enhanced in the state to 528 including 16 in Jails to provide deaddiction services to the victims of drug abuse at the grass-root level.
The Chief Minister said that OOAT Clinics focus on outpatient treatment in order to enable the patients to continue with his/her normal life during the de-addiction process adding that over 09 lakh patients of drug abuse are availing treatment in OOAT clinics and de-addiction centres. He said that the state government is laying major thrust on tracing the forward and backward linkages in the supply chain of drugs through proper investigation of each recovery of illicit drugs adding that an area–specific strategy has been tailored to each police station area/locality/village for eliminating the curse of drugs. Bhagwant Mann said that village Panchayats have been roped in to make drug free villages across the state.
The Chief mInister said that the village panchayats are playing key role in sensitising the youth over the issue. He said that this is helping the state to channelise the unbounded energy of youth in positive direction to wean away the menace of drugs. Bhagwant Mann further said that regular Cordon and Search Operations are being carried out in the entire state under the supervision of Senior Rank Police Officers (IG/ADGP/Spl DGP) with the special emphasises to curb and control drug trafficking in various identified drug hotspots of Districts/CPs adding that regular training sessions are being conducted for Investigating Officers/GOs on darknet, crypto currency, drug law enforcement and internet interception.