CHANDIGARH: The Centre’s zero-tolerance policy towards narcotics is showing results, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Saturday, noting that there were seizures of 3.3 lakh kg drugs and a 260 per cent increase in arrests in the 20014-21 period compared to 2006-13.
Stating that the drug problem was “more” in Punjab, a border state, he asserted the Centre stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the state government in the fight against the drug menace.
Shah said the government is holding talks with all stakeholders to make laws more stringent and has taken a proactive approach to connect with the states in the anti-narcotics efforts.
Eliminating the scourge is necessary to achieve the objective of a healthy society and prosperous nation. Also, it was important from the security point of view as “the dirty money generated from the drug trade is used in activities against the country”, the minister said.
He was speaking after inaugurating a two-day national conference on drug trafficking and national security organised by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCC).
“Everyone says the drug problem is more in Punjab, which is a border state. Therefore, we will have to make more efforts.
“If the state government allots land, the Centre will set up a forensic lab in Amritsar and a small centre of NCB for training purposes,” he said.
“…We have to make joint efforts to fight this problem… The Government of India stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the Punjab government to fight the drug menace. We have to pull out the youth of Punjab from the drug menace,” said Shah.
Shah said when Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014, the Centre adopted a zero-tolerance policy towards narcotics.
The fight against drugs, which was progressing swiftly and in the right direction, has started showing results, he said,
Shah said 1.52 lakh kg drugs were confiscated during 2006-2013 while 3.3 lakh kg drugs were seized in the 2014-2021 period.
Between 2006-2013, Rs 768 crore worth of drugs were seized while between 2014-21, Rs 20,000 crore worth of drugs were seized, he said.
Shah said there has been a 200 per cent increase in the number of cases registered. During the past seven years (2014-2021), there has been a 260 per cent increase in arrests made, he said.
“In this fight, bringing states together and taking on this scourge with synergy is very important,” he said.
He said that the drugs have an adverse impact not only on those consuming them but also on society, the economy and the country’s security. “We have to weed it out completely,” he said.
Coinciding with the conference, nearly 31,000 kg drugs were destroyed by the NCB teams in Delhi, Chennai, Guwahati and Kolkata.
Shah said various ministries, including Home, Education, Social Justice and Empowerment and Health, in coordination with various agencies, including the NCB, have joined hands in the battle against drugs.
He said the Home Ministry has adopted a multi-pronged approach to prevent inimical forces from using “the dirty money” generated from the drug trade against anti-India activities.
“We have adopted a proactive approach to connect the states with it (the fight against drugs),” he said.
“The results are encouraging and it shows that it isn’t a problem that can’t be weeded out completely,” said Shah, stressing that all agencies should complement each other’s efforts.
For coordination among various central and state agencies, the Narco Coordination Centre (NCORD) mechanism was set up by MHA in the year 2016 to conduct regular meetings.
This NCORD system has been restructured to four tiers up to the district level by MHA in 2019 for better coordination and cooperation and meetings are held regularly, said Shah.
“We have to give more thrust at the district level… if the desired results have to be achieved,” Shah noted.
Pointing to the presence of chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana as well as the Punjab governor at the conference, he urged them to devote at least three hours a week and a day a month to the narcotics issue.
“Till the time we do not take this approach and till the time this culture does not start from our office, it cannot percolate down below,” he said.
He expressed satisfaction that 21 states have set up anti-narcotics taskforce. He said the darknet and cryptocurrency are linked to the narcotics trade and the Home Ministry has recently set up a task force in this regard. (PTI)