Punjab also constitutes a special Working Group to review and monitor the action being taken to check drug abuse.
Chandigarh: In a bid to address the drug menace in Punjab, chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh Monday decided to recommend death penalty for drug peddlers and smugglers as a deterrent to the heinous crime destroying the lives of youth in the state.
The decision was taken at a special meeting of the cabinet, which resolved to send a formal recommendation soon to the central government to this effect, according to an official spokesperson.
The Punjab cabinet also decided to constitute a special Working Group under the chairmanship of additional chief secretary (home) N.S. Kalsi to review and monitor, on a day-to-day basis, the action being taken to check and control drug abuse.
The special Working Group constituted to review and update the government strategy against drugs will have ACS (Health) Satish Chandra, director general of police (intelligence) Dinkar Gupta, additional director general of police (law & order) Ishwar Singh and ADGP (Special Task Force) H.S. Sidhu as members, an official spokesperson disclosed after the meeting.
A cabinet sub-committee has also been formed under the chairmanship of the chief minister, with the special Working Group mandated to report directly to it. Health and family welfare minister and social security minister have been appointed members of the sub-committee, which will meet once a week to take stock of the situation and review the progress of the anti-drug campaign of the government, the spokesperson said.
Before the meeting started, all members of the cabinet stood in silence as a mark of respect to the Sikhs killed in the Afghanistan suicide attack, as well as the youth who have died due to drug overdose and the farmers who have committed suicide in the state.
The formal meeting was preceded by informal discussions, during which senior Home Department and Punjab Police officers briefed the cabinet members, who were also joined by Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Sunil Jakhar.
During the discussions, the chief minister ordered DGP Suresh Arora to intensify the police crackdown on the drug menace. He directed the DGP to go all out against drug smugglers and peddlers, making it clear that no complacency on the issue would be tolerated.
The cabinet took stock of the cases of deaths resulting from drug overdose, which STF chief Sidhu admitted to be a matter of concern. Sidhu suggested registration of all such cases to enable the identification and mitigation of risk factors, such as supply of spurious drugs and mixing of drugs with other death-causing substances. He called for thorough investigation of all such cases, while assuring the chief minister of his team’s concerted and enhanced efforts to fight the menace in a more aggressive manner.
Kalsi asked the DGP to review the drug scenario across the state with SSPs on a fortnightly basis. Delinquent SSPs found not performing up to the mark should be taken to task and adverse remarks should be penned in their ACRs, he suggested.
Local government minister and former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu expressed concern at the public perception that the government had not succeeded in eliminating the drug menace. He also lamented the reported instances of involvement of police personnel in drug menace and urged strict action against the guilty cops.