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Mass Campaign Against Drug Menace in Punjab Spreads Like Wildfire, CM Promises Action

It is believed that the campaign, which has received support from various political factions such as the Aam Aadmi Party and Shiromani Akali Dal, has played a key role in putting pressure on the government to take these steps.

Navleen Lakhi | News18

Updated:July 3, 2018, 10:12 PM IST
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Mass Campaign Against Drug Menace in Punjab Spreads Like Wildfire, CM Promises Action
As part of the ‘Chitte De Virodh Wich Kala Hafta – Maro Ja Virodh Karo’ (Black Week Against Drugs – Either Die or Protest), a black week is being observed starting July 1 till July 7. (Photo: News18)
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Punjab: In the last one month, drugs have claimed more than 30 lives in Punjab.

Recently, a series of chilling videos showing the extent of the menace, spread like wildfire on social media. From Kotkapura’s video showing a wailing mother holding her dead son in the middle of a garbage dump to Tarn Taran’s video of an eight-year-old son clinging to his father’s body who lost his life after wrongly injecting himself, the videos spoke of the alarming situation.

The videos also reflected the growing anger of the people in the state. It was this anger that gave rise to a non-political mass movement – ‘Maro Ja Virodh Karo’ (Either Die or Protest) – against drugs on social media.

Four people from different backgrounds who are active social media users are the driving force behind this campaign.

Senior journalist Baltej Pannu, gangster-turned-social activist Mintu Gurusaria, theatre activist and writer Pali Bhupinder and advocate Hakam Singh joined hands to start this movement with hopes of bringing change and building pressure on the government.

As part of the ‘Chitte De Virodh Wich Kala Hafta – Maro Ja Virodh Karo’ (Black Week Against Drugs – Either Die or Protest), a black week is being observed starting July 1 till July 7.

Participants and supporters of the campaign will wear black badges or ribbons on their arms. The campaign, which is supported by people from all walks of life includes reporters, advocates, writers, artists, actors, theatre artists etc, and saw huge response on social media as well as at the grassroot level.

The founders of the initiative were invited to meet chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday to discuss necessary steps that needed to be taken.

The second day of the campaign on Monday witnessed a special meeting of the cabinet where the Punjab government decided to propose capital punishment for drug peddling and smuggling in the state.

A few days ago, after a 26-year-old Ludhiana-based woman levelled allegations against deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Daljit Singh Dhillon for forcing her into drugs and sexually exploiting her, Dhillon was dismissed from service.

At Monday’s cabinet meeting, the decision to transfer senior superintendent of police (SSP) of Moga city, Raj Jit Singh Hundal was taken. Hundal is presently being investigated by the anti-drug STF for his alleged role in the drug trade.

It is believed that the campaign, which has received support from various political factions such as the Aam Aadmi Party and Shiromani Akali Dal, has played a key role in putting pressure on the government to take these steps.

Pali thinks that the campaign has played a vital role in shaking up the government. He said, “Punjab is getting destroyed day by day because of drugs. When people out come on roads, governments are forced to take steps. They wouldn’t have been comfortable in taking these steps but the government had to do it. All those who are associated with this campaign, it is because of their efforts that the government has taken notice of the problem. If people will continue showing their aggression, government will take strict actions.”

Pannu added, “It is not our movement alone but is Punjab’s movement. It is run by people from villages, towns, street and cities of Punjab. The chief minister invited us to give suggestions for eradicating drugs in Punjab. All those who are part of the campaign we asked them to give us suggestions which we further shared with the CM. In the 45-minute long meeting, he listened to every suggestion carefully.”

Former gangster Mintu Gurusaria who was addicted to drugs for 18 years, is now a social activist. Besides having a huge following on social media, Gurusaria who hails from Gurusar Jodha village in Lambi, regularly holds seminars and talks to create awareness on drugs.

A film based on his life named ‘Daakuan Da Munda’, which is an onscreen adaptation of a book written by Gurusaria, is slated for release on August 10.

“Instead of the result, it is efforts that are more important. We are proud of the fact that the movement that we started is now popular amongst youngsters of Punjab. Their pain has reached the CM and we have shared everything about their sufferings with him. This is what we could have done. Next step needs to be taken by him and the government.

“We can provide support and bring people together but someone from the authorities have to take it forward. But we will keep working on it, unless government doesn’t take the steps that needs to be taken,” said Gurusaria.

He further added, “The day I saw Kotkapura’s viral video, I couldn’t sleep. Three generations of my family were affected by drugs therefore I could feel the pain. It was important for me to raise my voice. With concerns about the present state of Punjab, I wrote a letter to Captain Amarinder Singh followed by this movement that has now reached different corners of the state.”

Adding to it, advocate Hakam said, ‘This fight will continue till drugs are completely eradicated from Punjab.”

The team is also supported by renowned food economist and Padma Bhushan awardee Dr Sardara Singh Johl who feels that ‘Punjabis need to wake up from their slumber otherwise the situation will become dreadful and beyond their imagination’.

Pannu explained that on the last day of campaign, they would form a human chain and come out on roads. "We’ll invite everybody. After many years, such a campaign has been observed in Punjab,” he said.
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