266 drug overdose deaths in Punjab in three years: police in HC
The affidavit filed by the director bureau of investigation, LK Yadav, reveals that the number of deaths has increased each year. As many as 36 deaths were reported in 2020-2021, 71 in 2021-2022 and 159 in 2022-2023 up to March 31
The affidavit filed by the director bureau of investigation, LK Yadav, reveals that the number of deaths has increased each year. As many as 36 deaths were reported in 2020-2021, 71 in 2021-2022 and 159 in 2022-2023 up to March 31.
The report was sought by the high court acting on a plea earlier this month in an anticipatory bail matter.
Taking note of the affidavit, the bench of justice Mahabir Singh Sindhu termed the situation “very precarious” and directed that the copy of the affidavit filed be brought to the notice of the Punjab chief secretary for taking “further necessary actions, as per law”.
It was on September 11 that acting on the plea of one Nidhi from Jalandhar, the high court had directed the director bureau of investigation to file an affidavit indicating the total number of deaths reported in the state of Punjab on account of an overdose of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances from April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2023.
The FIR in question was lodged on the complaint of a mother in Phillaur, who had alleged that one of the accused administered a drug overdose to her son, who died due to the same in February 2023.
Besides, sections of the NDPS Act, the police had also invoked sections of Indian Penal Code 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder). Nidhi, the petitioner, is one of the accused in the FIR.
The affidavit by Yadav says information was obtained from field units and as per that 266 deaths were reported in the state due to overdose of drugs. It says data about these deaths have been obtained from various SSPs and commissioners of police and records about the same are with them.
As per the affidavit, the entire state has been divided into 29 field units including three commissionerates of police in Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana. The highest number of deaths reported are in Bathinda (38), followed by Tarn Taran (30), Ferozepur (19) and Amritsar (rural), 17, where 12 deaths were reported in one year alone.
As many as 10 of the field units have deaths in double digits including the four mentioned above and Ludhiana police commissionerate (14); Amritsar (rural) (17), Faridkot (13), Moga (17), Muktsar (10), Fazilka (14).
As per the affidavit, Moga reported 15 cases in 2022-23 against two cases in two previous years, while Bathinda recorded 23 deaths in 2022-23 against 15 cases in two years, while Amritsar (rural) reported 12 cases, against five cases in previous two years. Three units SBS Nagar, Pathankot and STF reported zero cases of drug overdose. Commissionerate of Jalandhar reported just one case in 2020 and no case thereafter. Gurdaspur reported two cases only in three years. Ludhiana-rural reported zero cases in two years but in the third year, it reported five cases. Roopnagar reported just one case that too this year. Malerkotla has reported just one case in 2020 and no case thereafter. The most astonishing fact of the report is that Tarn Taran reported 10 cases in the previous two years but 20 cases in 2022-2023,
Ferozepur reported six cases in the previous two years and 13 in 2022-2023, Muktsar reported one case in previous two years and nine in 2022-2023.
The revelations coincide with the development of the Punjab and Haryana high court disposing of a suo motu PIL initiated in 2013 on the issue of the menace of drugs in the state on September 15, last week, with a slew of directions.
The different high court benches conducted at least 100 hearings during this period while monitoring probes in FIRs and awareness initiatives launched by the state. It was during the proceedings of this case that a special task force was set up by the government to monitor the probe into drug cases, which is still continuing.