The last resort: Punjab CM seeks 'divine intervention' to end drug menace

drug-abuse Representative image

Having used up most of the resources at his disposal to fight drug menace in the state, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarender Singh, on Thursday, decided to seek 'divine intervention' to help solve problem.

The chief minister wrote to Giani Gurbachan Singh, the head priest of the Akal Takht—variously called the Vatican of the Sikhs—appealing that the highest temporal authority of the community urge members to desist from drug abuse and follow the path shown by the great Sikh gurus.

Though the Akal Takht, in the past few decades, made any sort of intervention only when someone opposed it or questioned the Sikh tenets, in the past, it had made attempts to bring the community on the right path. Decades ago, it spoke up against female foeticide. While the appeal against female foeticide did not yield desired effects in the state, Akal Takht's comments on the issue were quoted widely, and until a few years ago, announcements used to be made through public address systems at gurdwaras against female foeticide.

The chief minister is pinning his hopes on Akal Takht to make an appeal against the rampant drug menace as many of the users are believed to be from the community.

Harpal Singh, an Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SPGC) employee, said, “There is the moral authority of the Akal Takht and people generally do as the hukm (command) given”.

It may be recalled that the chief minister had a unanimous resolution passed by his cabinet, seeking an amendment of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, to provide for death penalty for drug peddlers who are first-time offenders. According to the Act, death penalty is awarded to only second-time offenders. The chief minister's contention was that much of the damage is done by the time the first instance of crime is allowed to pass.

He then decided to make dope test mandatory for government employees and volunteered to undergo it himself. There was much political resistance although some MLAs volunteered to undergo the test.

The district commissioners banned the sale of syringes without prescription as part of the efforts to curb the menace.

Political pressure is mounting on the chief minister as drug related cases are on the rise in the state. It then comes as no surprise that the CM turned to the Akal Takht to do its bit to end the drug menace in the state.