Chandigarh: Union Home Minister Amit Shah Saturday said that the Centre’s zero-tolerance policy towards narcotics was showing results and emphasised that states work in tandem with the Centre in the fight against the scourge of drugs.
Shah, who was on a day-long visit to Chandigarh, also spoke about steps being taken by the Centre to weed out the problem of drugs while asserting that the zero-tolerance policy toward drugs was necessary to achieve the objective of a healthy society and a prosperous nation.
“It is also important from the security point of view as the dirty money which is generated from the drug trade is used in activities against the country,” he said after inaugurating a two-day national conference on ‘Drug Trafficking and National Security’ organised by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).
Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, and NCB chief S N Pradhan were present at the conference.
Shah also spoke about the establishment of fast-track and exclusive courts for drug-related matters.
Pointing out that the drug problem was more in Punjab, he assured complete support of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government to the state for its fight against the menace.
Shah said that the Centre would set up a forensic lab and a small centre of NCB in Punjab.
“Today Punjab CM is here. Everyone is saying this drug problem is more in Punjab and I feel that drug problem is more in Punjab. It is a border state and if the problem is more then 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.
Emphasising joint efforts for solving the drug problem, Shah said, “The Centre stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the Punjab government to fight the drug menace. We know we have to pull out the youth of Punjab from the drug menace. We stand with whatever efforts it makes.”
Spelling out steps to check drug abuse, he said there had been a 200 percent increase in the number of cases registered.
“During the past seven years (2014-2021), there has been a 260 percent increase in arrests made,” Shah said.
He said 1.52 lakh kg of drugs were confiscated between 2006-2013 while 3.3 lakh kg of drugs were seized between 2014 and 2021.
“Between 2006 and 2013, Rs 768 crore worth of drugs were seized and the figure went up to Rs 20,000 crore in the 2014-21 period,” Shah said.
He said when Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014, the Centre adopted a zero-tolerance policy toward drugs adding that the fight against drugs was progressing swiftly and in the right direction and had started showing results.
Shah said that the drugs adversely impact the younger generation, harming it like termites, and stressed that the government was committed to eliminating the scourge.
“We have to weed it out completely,” he said.
Coinciding with the conference, nearly 31,000 kg of drugs were destroyed by NCB teams in Delhi, Chennai, Guwahati, and Kolkata in the virtual presence of Shah.
Shah said various ministries including Home, Education, Social Justice and Empowerment, and Health in coordination with various agencies including NCB had joined hands in the fight against drugs.
He said that the Home Ministry had adopted a multi-pronged approach to prevent inimical forces from using “the dirty money” generated from the drug trade for anti-India activities.
“We have adopted a proactive approach to connecting states with it (the fight against drugs),” Shah said.
“The results which we have got are encouraging and it shows that the problem is not such whose solution cannot be found or weeded out completely,” he said laying stress on adopting a whole-of-government approach to combat the drug menace.
“In this fight, to bring states together and fight against this scourge with synergy is very important,” Shah said. “All agencies and others who are involved in fighting against this menace should complement each other's efforts.”
Stating that the fight against drugs cannot be fought by the Centre alone, he said when the states' speed to fight against this scourge is more than double that of the Centre, the results come.
On big seizure drug cases, Shah told the states not to make it a Centre-state matter and said that they should hand over such cases which are beyond their jurisdiction to either NCB or the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
“We want resolution of the problem and I want to assure that these two central agencies will investigate by taking the states into confidence,” he said. “I urge you that we should come and fight together.”
Shah said that the talks were on with the Supreme Court for setting up fast-track courts and exclusive courts.
He said that the five northern states, especially Punjab, and the Northeast were facing the problem of drugs.
Shah emphasised coordination among the five states for checking the problem of drug smuggling.
He said the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and many other agencies were working on combating the problem of drones.
Asking the states to keep a watch on new drug smuggling routes, Shah said that of the total seizures in the last year, 81 percent of narcotics came through the sea route.
He said that for coordination among various central and state agencies, the Narco Coordination Centre (NCORD) mechanism was set up by the Home Ministry in 2016.
“We have to give more thrust on district level because they are crucial if the desired results in the fight against drugs have to be achieved,” Shah said.