We Need To Root Out Epidemic Of Drugs Before It’s Too Late

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Dr. Raghbir Singh Bains

Drugs have devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Mafias have fostered the development of a criminal industry that is corrupting civil society and governments and killing our children.

The holy land of Punjab in northern India, once a land of Gurus, saints and warriors is now in the midst of a drug epidemic that is threatening to destroy the fabric of Punjab, its generation of juveniles and youth. In reality, Punjab is hard hit by the unprecedented attack of drugs. The state is struggling with severe consequences of drug plague. Smugglers are killing innocent youngsters. Health is deteriorating and thousands of drug users are dying of cancer and AIDS every year. People must know that they are living in a global society. If the menace is not controlled quickly, it may spread not in Punjab only but to other places wherever Punjabis have settled. The supply and use of drugs will result in ‘death of character’ of the people everywhere. It is truly said that if character is lost everything is lost.

It is a known fact that experimentation with alcohol and drugs during adolescence is common in the world.  Teenagers often don’t see the linkage between their actions today and the consequences tomorrow.  They also have a tendency to feel indestructible and immune to the problems that others experience.

I am a drug therapist and have a long experience working in this field. When I write something about this serious issue, I really mean, “Please do not ignore it”. If drugs are not controlled quickly, Punjab will be at the brink to destroy itself and its past glory.

According to experts working in drug addiction field, more than 70 per cent of youth are addicted to drugs in this North-Indian state of Punjab. Cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy, smack, crack, opium, prescription pills and many synthetic drugs are easily found on the streets. Youngsters sniff petrol, and similar killing products. Many sportsmen are doping under the name of supplements.  It is an irony of fate that despite regular border patrols and a huge barb wire fence separating India from Pakistan, quintals of drugs are either seized or reach the drug traders and drug users in routine. Unhealthy trend has also developed that many drug dealers are sending illegal drugs from Punjab to few countries like Canada, America and UK in which sportsmen and police officials have also been arrested. Wide-ranging reports fear that if demand of drugs and supply is not stopped immediately, the state of Punjab may become drug hub of India and it may influence other countries also.

Streets of Punjab have already been plagued with deaths of youngsters who happened to be victims of drug menace. Undeterred mafias are successful in distribution of legal and illegal drugs under protection of certain high ups and influential agencies.  Reasons not known, the Governments of Punjab and India have not been able to stop smuggling of drugs from across the borders. The drug industry is flourishing and demand of drugs is increasing day by day. It is being noticed that there is going to be a big increase in the number of people hooked to synthetic or real drugs in future. It will prove to be a great threat to the society which needs nipping.

Many religions including Sikhism, Islam, Buddhism and Christianity do not permit the use of alcohol and drugs to its followers. However daily reports carried by general media confirm that legal and illegal drugs are made available by unscrupulous traders and used at many music festivals, folk events, rave parties, hotels, motels, brothels, cinema houses, marriage palaces, gates of educational institutions, street corners, bus stands, railway stations and  at many public places. Either the followers disobey the tenets of their respective faiths not to use drugs or have gone astray. The drug traders and suppliers need to realize that one day their own kids and family members will also get caught in the vicious net of drugs cleverly laid by them for youth of other innocent families.

There is no denying the fact that people are now attached to individual freedom about their tastes and temperaments. They do not want self-restraints and responsibility towards others or conventions of the code of their ancestral conduct, ethics or heritage.  Basic standards of decency are flouted. Socio-ethno corruption seems to be growing rampantly. Poor are becoming poorer. Youth are mostly abandoning higher education. Few are getting degrees but no jobs. It may result in bigger problems for humanity. Community members must read clear writing on the walls and take quick action to curb the drug problems.

If we dig deep into the issues we come to know that the dilemma is not due to failure of individuals only but a joint responsibility of hidden forces of capitalism, politicians, bureaucrats, criminals, drug dealers, gamblers, racketeers, dopers, illegitimate chemists, laboratory technicians, doctors and other mafia groups that are working under the stream of selfishness, money bagging and nepotism. Every day people witness random and senseless violence in Punjab. Homes, streets, roads, villages, cities and even police forces are not now safe from gang hooliganism.

In addition to the stern action to be taken by the government against lawlessness, there is a dire need of awareness to be created among the community concerning the issues of decline in the socio-moral education in the broadest sense.  Parents, guardians, role models, mentors, teachers, preachers and social reformers must raise decent and moral kids in the community to do the right things for prosperity of society by respecting socio-political constrains, limits, boundaries of discipline, obligations and communal compulsions. Drug dealers and criminals do not normally care for sermons and rhetoric speeches. Politicians and administrators have to learn a lesson not to tolerate any kind of corruption in any field. The government must create educational facilities to create awareness and treatment centers especially for youth who kneeled before the glamour of drugs.  Youth must become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

No doubt task forces have seized hundreds of kilograms of heroin, cocaine and other drugs crossing Punjab borders in multi operations yet focusing on law enforcement and most dangerous and violent criminals will help further to weed out drug trafficking that is killing the youth. It is good news that Punjab government has started taking immediate steps to curb the malicious activities of small drug dealers and the cheaters by putting them behind bars. My experience speaks that to root out the menace, whole sale traders of drugs must be netted on priority. Patch work service will not achieve good results. It would also be befitting for the government to put suitable caps every year on the ever increasing quota of alcohol and liquor being sold on legally auctioned vends in Punjab. In this way, the government will be saving overspending on health issues and also ensure the fitness of its citizens.

To determine the future prosperity of Punjab and elsewhere, the respective governments need to continue taking uncompromising action against the vicious drug dealers more earnestly and honestly. Politicians and bureaucrats must act diligently with an honest ‘will to save’ the rich history, culture and heritage of the people living in Punjab, the land of saints, Gurus and warriors.

Dr Raghbir Singh Bains is the award winning author of the Sikh Encyclopedia. He can be reached at [email protected].