Calling for collaborative efforts to fight the menace of drugs, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday sought continued support and assistance of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in fighting the problem.

Fearing that there was a strategic conspiracy behind drug smuggling in the state, unleashed from across the international border, the Chief Minister brought to notice that rivulets in Punjab were being used to smuggle narcotics.

Capt Amarinder Singh was delivering the keynote address at the inauguration of a three-day regional workshop ‘Combating Illicit Trafficking of Afghan Opiates: Developing a Comprehensive Approach’, organised here by UNODC and steered by UNODC Regional Office South Asia (ROSA) Sergey Kapinos.

Expressing the confidence that his government would succeed in destroying drug business, the Chief Minister called for teamwork to battle the menace. He felt the UNODC could play a pivotal role in that by helping the state identify the big sharks in the drug business. While the Special Task Force (STF) and other agencies had been successful in catching middle-level peddlers, the big suppliers need to be apprehended too, he felt.

He referred to his initiative of reaching out to the Chief Ministers of neighbouring states, while stating that Haryana decided to set up a joint control room in Panchkula. Such collective efforts would help in destroying the drug racket, Amarinder Singh remarked.

Terming the drug problem as a very critical issue that had been going for a long time in Punjab, the CM said the state had seen a shift from traditional use of marijuana (and to some extent opium) to synthetic stuff.

The seizure of a consignment that had come from Mandavi in Gujarat to Punjab clearly suggested that the aim of drug smugglers was to weaken Indian manpower, vis-a-vis country’s defence apparatus, said the CM.

Referring to Facebook posts of young girls sniffing drugs, he expressed concern at the dangerous trend and said his government was going all out to tackle the problem.

The STF, he claimed had shown remarkable results since 1 April 2017. The Chief Minister informed that as many as 18,216 cases had been registered under the NDPS Act and 21,489 persons arrested with 461 kg heroin.