Punjab Congregation Polls: Drug Threat Hot Topic in Villages That Have Recorded Deaths from Addiction | Ludhiana News
KOOM KALAN/ SAMRALA/ PAYAL: With the general elections approaching, the drug threat is the main problem in villages where addiction deaths are recorded. In many of these places, residents have kept a watchful eye on people entering the villages and there have been instances where they have turned suspected drug dealers over to the police. They want the elected government to put an end to this evil.
In Koom Kalan, a group of people from different villages formed the Nasha Virodhi Lok Sangharsh Committee. Its members have urged the political parties to put the drug problem high on their agenda. Committee members who keep records of drug deaths have put the number at 55 in a decade.
“There have been about 55 drug-related deaths in the villages of Koom Kalan over the past 10 years. Chaunta is the “drug capital” from where they are shipped to various villages. We are working against the threat in about 70 villages in the Sahnewal Constituency, which includes Koom Kalan. So drugs are an important issue in the upcoming elections,” said Amarnath Singh, organizer of the group, which is affiliated with Koom Kalan.
“Drug dealers became active in the area about 17 years ago and have thrived with impunity ever since. There have been 10 to 11 deaths in my village and we want the government to address the issue,” he added.
In the village of Chaunta, residents of other villages have also joined the “Morcha” against drug abuse. “We were the worst victims of the drug problem. As youths are dying, we as a committee felt it necessary to set up this morcha through which we keep tabs on peddlers and alert the police. We have kept records of the deaths and have also written to many villages to boycott the peddlers socially. When we come across an addict, we make a commitment from their parents to have them treated, or we ask them if we can commit them to a state rehab center. In many cases, the parents don’t even know their ward is an addict,” said Rajinder Singh of the committee, the former sarpanch of Miyani village.
He said even if the police claim they are cooperating with the villagers in this fight, they are not touching big peddlers who enjoy political patronage. “We ask representatives of political parties what we will do with roads and other development work when our youth die. It hurts to see so many young people dying with needles in their arms,” he added.
People who have lost loved ones want to vote for the party that promises to end drug trafficking. “My 31-year-old nephew Jaswinder Singh was a hairdresser. Drug addicts who came to his shop got him hooked. Two or three years later we found out about it. He died seven years ago, leaving behind his wife and a son. His wife works as a maid to earn a living,” said Roop Lal, 65, from Miyani Village. “For us, drugs are the main issue in elections and we will vote for the party that we believe can eliminate them.”
Balwinder Singh Bittu from Chaunta village, who is a member of Nasha Virodhi Lok Sangharsh’s committee, said he lost two of his cousins, Sukhjit Singh, 38, and Kuldeep Singh, 29, from the same village to drugs. “Sukhjit leaves behind a daughter and a son and Kuldeep a son. Although the families own land, they have yet to come to terms with the loss. That’s why we set up the Morcha. While development is needed, this threat is a more serious issue for us,” Balwinder said, adding that they want their elected officials to remove the “drug capital” label from Chaunta.
A villager whose nephew was found dead in a wooded area near his Saleempura village expresses similar sentiments. “He was just 23 years old when he died of a drug overdose. He had a syringe in his arm when we found his body in the wooded area. He was my brother’s only son who now works in a factory to support his family,” the villager said.
In the village of Ghulal in Samrala, villagers had caught three drug dealers a few months ago and handed them over to the police. Panchayat member Kulwinder Singh said drugs were the main topic of the survey but things have improved a little now that after catching the three peddlers they met the MLA and area police officers and briefed them on the situation.
Drug Free Campaign
Sarpanch from Otalan village near Samrala, Prem Bir Saddi, said they formed a team of five members to monitor suspicious peddlers from outside and from the village itself. He added that as soon as they get any information they share it with the police. A voter from a village in Payal said police should be proactive in tackling the issue as youth are the future of Punjab.