10 ‘drug overdose’ deaths in a week push AAP govt in a corner

A man, who along with his sarpanch wife had joined Aam Aadmi Party in the run up to this year’s Assembly polls, was arrested Thursday with 30-gm heroin from Khemkaran in Tarn Taran, the police action coming a day after seven drug peddlers were arrested and 300g heroin recovered soon after a video went viral on social media of addicts crowding near a man openly selling drugs on a rail track in Faridkot.

Police arrested Jaswant Singh from near village Padhari. An FIR under NDPS Act has been registered against him at Jhabal police station.

Jaswant’s wife was elected as Sarpach from Dashmesh Nagar on congress ticket. The couple joined the AAP ahead of the February 20 Assembly polls in Punjab. At the time, then AAP candidate from Khemkaran , and now MLA, Sarvan Singh Dhun had on his Facebook page shared pictures of Jaswant joining the party.

Former Shiromani Akali Dal Badal MLA Virsa Singh Valtoha Thursday posted pictures of Jaswant with Dhun. He also shared a copy of the FIR on social media and asked if this was the change ffor which people voted.

The ruling party, however, sought to play it down. AAP’s Khadoor Sahib parliamentary constituency incharge Baljit Singh Khaira said, “Many people joined AAP before the election. There was no time to check their credentials. But if someone is involved in any wrongdoing, then action will be taken.”

The drug menace is now becoming a major headache for the 50-year-old AAP government.

On May 2, AAP’s Faridkot MLA, Gurdit Singh Sekhon, alleged that in his native village Machaki Khurd, drug smugglers attacked social activist Baljit Singh after he tried to stop them.

“There are gangs of drug smugglers. Lots of money is involved. Many powerful people are into this nexus. I had formed a team to stop the drug smuggling and Baljit was a member. What justice can we promise to masses if our own people are getting beaten,” Sekhon had then said.

In run up to the Assembly elections, AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal had claimed that if voted to power, his party’s government will end the drug menace within six months. While there has not been much action on part of government, one change that has been noticed is that people have become vocal against drug peddlers. In the recent past, there have been several instances when people caught alleged drug peddlers and handed them over to police.

The opposition claims that there have been no decrease in deaths due to drug overdose. Former MLA Kanwar Sandhu claimed that seven such deaths have been reported in past one week. The Indian Expressed traced at least 10 deaths due to drug overdose or addiction in the last one week.

On May 3, Rupinderjit Singh (36) of village Alawalpur in Khadoor Sahib was found dead in a locality in Tarn Taran. Family took his body to the police station where a case was registered against two unidentified persons for selling drugs to Rupinderjit. He has a one-year-old daughter.

The same day, 28-year-old Karamjit Singh died at the Government Medical College Faridkot where he was under treatment for drug addiction. His brother had died due to drug addiction last year.

On May 2, Om Parkash of village Jalewala in Jalalabad was found dead. According to his mother, he was under treatment for addiction for last one month.

The same day, newly married Gurpreet Singh was found dead near the RD Khosla School in Batala city of Gurdaspur. His family alleged that he was an addict and police also suspects that he died of overdose.

Two more drug overdose deaths were reported on May 2 — NDPS Act convict Latti was found dead in village Kale of Amritsar, and 26-year-old Amreek Singh of village Gorha Chak in Ferozpur too died of drug overdose.

On April 30, Satwinder Singh (23) of Jhorar village in Muktsar was found dead in the toilet at his home with syringe in his veins . On April 29, Santokh Singh (25) of village Anku in Ferozpur died due to alleged drug overdose. A dy later, 35-year-old Shinderpal Singh of village Dhariwal in Tarn Taran too allegedly died due to drug overdose. According to his family, he brought drugs from nearby village Chuslewar.

Jai Parkash (22) of Baba Deep Singh Nagar of Malout died due to alleged drug overdose on April 28.

On Wednesday, sharing the Faridkot video, Sidhu had targeted the AAP government. “STF report and Hon’ble High Court have, on multiple
occasions, observed that a nexus between drug peddler, police and politician exists, which is yet to be broken. Political will absent… Ramifications clearly evident”.

The ruling party, meanwhile, said it needs time to act.

Asked about the allegations of open sale of drugs in state and deaths due to drug overdose, Baljit Singh Khaira said, “We need some time. The structure is old. We will end it with the help of the police. We promise that we will end this network. But we need some time for that.”

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