A total of 1,468 persons have been arrested and 1,277 cases under the NDPS Act registered across Punjab in last four weeks after the Amarinder Singh government began its crackdown on drug mafia in the state. The Special Task Force (STF), constituted by the government to combat the drug menace, has "choked" trans- border and interstate-border supply lines of drugs, with a whopping 1,277 NDPS Act cases registered and 1,468 persons arrested since March 16, STF chief Harpreet Singh Sidhu said today. The arrests and the cases registered are double of what was reported last year during the same period, he said. With a multi-pronged approach, the STF, joined by various state police and intelligence agencies, has cracked down on the drugs trade in the state, virtually strangulating the supply of all types of drugs in the state, Sidhu claimed. He said though the formal notification on the constitution and the terms of reference of the STF came on Friday, the STF began its drive against the drugs scourge from April. Citing data gathered by Sidhu's team, an official spokesperson said that 31.804 kg heroin (including 24.4 kg by the BSF), 1.527 kgs smack, 2.272 kgs of charas, 81.99 kgs of opium (including 0.065 kgs by BSF), 2812.5 kgs of poppy husk, 169.223 kg of ganja, 14.8 kgs of bhang, 34.911 kg of intoxicant powder, 3,201 vyles of injections and 3,36,314 pills/capsules have been seized as part of the government's crackdown on drugs in Punjab in the period between March 16 and April 14. Pertinently, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has given Sidhu a free hand to manage the anti-drugs operations. Amarinder had also directed the STF to cacth "the big fish" allegedly involved drugs trade in the state. According to the spokesperson, the STF, being personally monitored by the Chief Minister, has many drugs dealers on its radar and is preparing to come down heavily on them in the coming weeks. After taking the charge as chief of SIT, Sidhu extensively toured the state to "brief and guide" the district police officials on the action to be taken as part of the anti-drugs campaign. "With the crackdown by the STF and other agencies squeezing the availability of drugs, the prices of narcotics have gone up, making it difficult for drug addicts to have access to narcotics.
Hundreds of addicts have knocked the doors of rehabilitation centres in these four weeks, with the STF now working on amending its rehabilitation approach to make it even more humane," the spokesperson said. The active cooperation of all sections of the society is being enlisted through awareness campaigns for rehabilitation of drug victims and prevention of drug abuse, the spokesperson said. Notably, in its poll manifesto, the Congress had announced to "wipe out" drug menace in the state within a month of its assuming office.
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