Time to pedal drug abuse out of Punjab

The story of drugs which involved mostly men until now has gone a step ahead and has clinched the woman of the house too.

From last many years, a lot has been said about drugs in Punjab. Movies have been made and politics has been played but nothing has stopped the people of Punjab from taking drugs. And these people don’t necessarily include men but women too. Yes, you read it right.

Women in Punjab have also become drug addicts. It’s awkward to hear, read or watch a woman taking drugs, isn’t it? Yes, it is. But this is the reality we need to face and acknowledge.

Indian society, especially Indian women are evolving and so should we. It’s hard to accept the behaviour of the protagonists of ‘Lipstic under my Burkha’ but that is the fact too.

Not taking the women into this picture would be like telling a half story. The story of drugs which involved mostly men until now has gone a step ahead and has clinched the woman of the house too.

Various cities in Punjab are seeing this trend wherein women are not only playing the role of a courier but also of an
addict. Data found from various de-addiction centres, psychiatry and councillors in the holy state of India confirms this fact.

There can be many reasons why women are getting addicted to drugs. In many cases, they are used as a peddler or courier, which gives them an easy access to the drugs. In other cases, women, whose husbands are addict are frustrated and become an easy prey to this substance.

According to doctors dealing with drug addicts, it is common for women to get addicted to drugs due to the frustration of dealing with an addict husband and in-house availability of drugs such as heroin.

It is found in some cities of Punjab that 40 out of 100 cases of drug abuse are of couples. Women, who are a common and easy source of procurement for men who are already addicts, slip into the habit. Actually, it is a vicious cycle. Housewives, students, sex workers and other women, due to many reasons involved, are indulging into the sex trade, drug peddling and drug addiction. All these trades mingle into each other into such a way that it becomes hard to introspect which thing they chose first and why.

Punjab shares an international border with Pakistan which is primarily the cause behind this issue. It also serves as a transit route which lures drug peddlers to act as couriers. Along with this, with having Rajasthan as its neighbour state where poppy cultivation is legalized, the government approved vends are selling it legally. This is posing a serious threat to Punjab, tells Mandeep Singh Sidhu, Senior Superintendent of Sangrur, Punjab.

Recently hailed for organizing Punjab’s largest Anti-Drug Cycle Rally, SSP Sangrur involved people from all faiths, gender, profession and political parties to make a strong and lasting statement to curb drug addiction in Punjab. Ideated, conceptualized and executed in a small town of Punjab- Sangrur, the ‘Malwa Fights Against Drugs’ the 17 kilometre-long-cycle rally got the participation of more than 7,000 people.

Malwa against drugs: Nearly 7,000 people from all religions and political parties pedalled together against the menace

“Drug abuse occupied central stage in Punjab Assembly Election 2017 and Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh had declared to exterminate the scourge from the face of Punjab. So, this time we wanted to approach the entire issue afresh. Apart from resorting to all legal provisions to tackle the issue, we decided to go an extra mile by
taking general public along with us in our drive against drugs,” said the cop when asked why this step was not taken during the SAD regime.

Catching and punishing the culprits involved in drugs is not a solution anymore. Punjab drug menace cannot be solved by police or politicians. It needs all round involvement and understanding of addicts, their families, their struggles and their behaviour patterns. Irrespective of their caste, colour or creed, involving with them at the ground level is a must now.

Keeping this in mind, and to demolish an old fashioned iron curtain between police and public prevailing since Company Raj in British India, a similar kind of cycle rally against drugs was also held in Malerkotla.

Awareness behind burqa- in Malerkotla, the Muslim dominated city of Punjab

“Malerkotla, which enjoys a rare distinction of being only Muslim dominated city in Punjab, showed a spectacular union against drugs. This rally went a long way in cementing the religious bonhomie in the city. The huge participation of girls, particularly Muslim girls, who voluntarily came forward to espouse our cause of ‘Say No to Drugs’, ‘Yes to Life’ was a highly encouraging experience for us,” told SSP Sidhu.

According to a study on Punjab’s drug problem conducted by All India Institute of Media Sciences and Delhi’s National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre last year, there were around 8.6 lakh opioid users and around 2.3 lakh people were opioid-dependent.

Recently, the Punjab chief minister had formed a committee to prepare a comprehensive de-addiction and rehabilitation plan for victims of the drugs menace in the state.

Rising from the politics and vested interests, we need to use magnifying glasses while talking and dealing with drug-addicts. We may have been trying hard to eradicate this black spot from the beautiful agricultural state of India, but until we accept the fact that it is not anymore a men or women behavior, but about human behaviour, we can’ eliminate Punjab drug menace from root levels.

Yashica Jalhotra is ready to help drug addicts get rid of their behavior and assist them in living the life they always wanted to live. Send her narcotics, I mean letters at letters@tehelka.com.