Jairam Thakur wants stricter provisions against drug abuse, including a bail bar even if you possess small amounts.
New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Himachal Pradesh wants the hill state and hippy haven to be drug-free.
Chief minister Jairam Thakur has told ThePrint that the state will soon seek amendments to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act to deal with peddlers and possessors much more strictly.
For one, he wants no bail for those caught with drugs, regardless of the amount found on their person.
Also, Thakur added, there should be a provision in the Act to attach properties of convicted drug peddlers.
“We will be writing to the Centre soon to amend the central Act to provide for these (changes),” said Thakur.
Interacting with ThePrint at Himachal Sadan in the national capital Saturday evening, he said checking drug abuse was one of the priorities of the state’s current BJP government, which assumed office in December last year.
As it is, offences under Section 37 of the NDPS Act are cognisable and non-bailable, but various courts have given different interpretations that have led to some dilution.
In 2012, for instance, the Delhi High Court ruled that anyone found with a small quantity of drugs had to be given bail. The decision came on a petition by the mother of a St Stephen’s student allegedly caught with 100 g of charas.
About one-fourth of youngsters in Himachal Pradesh are estimated to be exposed to drug abuse. Local media reports recently quoted a government affidavit in the high court as stating that 94 kg of charas, 3 kg of opium, 480 g of heroin and thousands of tablets and capsules were seized from April to June this year alone.
Many tourists treat Shimla, Kullu-Manali and other hill stations as recreational drug centres. Drugs such as ‘malana cream’- extracted from the cannabis plant – and ‘chitta’ – extracted from opium and laced with synthetic drugs – are much sought after by a section of the state’s youth as also by tourists.
Reaching out across the political divide
Thakur, 53, represents a generational shift in state politics, with satraps such as the BJP’s Prem Kumar Dhumal, 74, and Shanta Kumar, 84—as also the Congress party’s Virbadra Singh, 84– virtually nearing the end of their careers.
The shift has resulted in innovative approaches to administration.
The new chief minister, for instance, has decided to adopt the best practices from other states in the country. He sent an eight-member delegation of MLAs to Sikkim to study organic farming and tourism.
He himself is scheduled to visit Madhya Pradesh to understand how the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government has achieved what it has in the agriculture sector.
In dealing with the drug menace in Himachal, Thakur is not averse to reaching out across the political divide.
He has held a meeting with his counterparts in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttarakhand — Capt. Amarinder Singh (Congress), Manohar Lal Khattar (BJP) and Trivendra Rawat (BJP) — to develop a joint strategy to check drug abuse.
“Drug peddlers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand are operating in Himachal. We need a coordinated strategy to deal with them,” he said.