Punjab has made its mark in Indian psyche as the holy centre of Sikhism and home of valiant warriors. The land of five rivers had suffered the worse of partition and still thrived to become a key contributor to the green revolution. Punjabi’s are known for their rich cultural heritage and family values. But today the state is on top of charts for all the wrong reasons – Its drug epidemic.
“Easier to fetch drugs than water”
Sadly today the state is in the grip of a crippling narcotics addiction. The Punjabi youth are falling prey to the drug culture. The issue has been escalating because the politicians are refusing to even accept its existence. The film “Udta Punjab” which is centred on this issue has been in a chaotic fight with the Censors – Cos the political powers are not happy with this issue being highlighted.
Here are the shocking facts that will prove to even the hardened cynic, that the issue needs widespread awareness and immediate Action –
- The shocking Statistics –
- 67% of Households in Punjab have at least one addict.
- 75% of 15 to 25 year olds near the border are heroin addicts.
- Children as young as 12 are experimenting with drugs.
- 50% of drug related cases reported in India are from Punjab.
- 70% of inmates across the state are addicts.
- Opioids worth 700 crore are consumed every year.
- Heroin accounts for 53% of drug use.
- Only 1.8% of addicts receive Government help.
- Bhukki or Poppy Husk (akin to marijuana) is the mildly intoxicating gateway drug that initiates the recreational drug use. Abuse of Heroin that comes across the border from Afghan and Pakistan is on the rise. Opium and morphine are also widely used. Desperate addicts are even eating toothpastes with nicotine content.
- Drugs are openly sold near hospitals, schools and colleges. You can get the drugs without any prescription from medical shops. People use code names for drugs.
- Drugs, Liquors and narcotics worth 800 crore were seized ahead of 2014 Elections.
- The state has 33 Rehabilitation centres and one de addiction centre per district– which are grossly inadequate, understaffed, lack basic amenities and inhospitable to women. In the worst kind of irony, these are not affordable to most of the addicts. Entry of private agencies into de addiction without regulatory guidelines has further complicated the issue.
- The rate of HIV infection in Punjab is 26% (national average is 9%)- most of it originating from Injectable Drug Use (IDU) among the youth.
- Panjab has the highest rate of narcotic related crimes.
- Punjab has a heavy drinking culture and landowners often give opium to farmers at the end of heavy workday.
- Politicians and their relatives are rumoured to be deeply involved in the drug nexus.
- Punjab is the point of collection for drugs that are unleashed on the country.
Government is refusing to acknowledge the issue and now the censorship is out to gag the voices that are trying to raise awareness. The Narcoterrorism is the biggest threat to Punjab and requires immediate and extensive action.