Union Home and Conference Minister, Amit Shah, said on Saturday that India is witnessing a fight against drug trafficking with a “clear direction and fast pace” for the first time since Independence.
He was addressing the National Conference on “Drug Trafficking and National Security” in Chandigarh. The conference aimed at fighting India’s drug trafficking menace came on the heels of India’s 75th independence anniversary.
Amit Shah asserted that the Narendra Modi government’s zero-tolerance policy on drugs has started showing results and that states must co-operate with the centre’s robust multi-pronged approach to quell the nation’s drug menace.
“The results that we have got are encouraging and it shows that the problem is not such whose solution cannot be found or weeded out completely,” Mr Shah said.
Through NCORD—the apex level body for narcotic control—the Ministry of Home Affairs has established a coordinating mechanism to ensure that there are no gaps in the system until the district level.
Amit Shah reaffirmed a robust Center-State collaboration as a critical requirement to tame the nation’s drug trafficking, with the states playing a more vital role than the centre.
In order to build institutional structure, empower and coordinate all narcotics agencies, conduct extensive awareness campaigns, and treat addiction, the Ministry of Home Affairs is developing a three-tiered strategy, Mr Shah said at the conference.
He advised the states to hand over large-scale drug cases that fall outside of their purview to either the NCB or the National Investigation Agency instead of making them a ‘Center-State’ matter.
“We want resolution of the problem and I want to assure you that these two central agencies will investigate by taking the states into confidence,” he said.
The Union Home Minister said that talks were on with the Supreme Court to set up fast-track and exclusive courts to handle the issues.
Mr Shah also said that a 75-day-long drug eradication campaign is already in progress and will see an estimated 1 lakh kilogrammes of drugs being burnt by the campaign’s conclusion on the upcoming Independence Day.
Coinciding with the conference, under the same campaign, 31,000 kilogrammes of drugs were burnt in four cities on Saturday.
The National Conference on “Drug Trafficking and National Security” is the first of its kind that assembled different drug enforcement agencies, the Union Home Minister, and chief ministers of different states on the same platform.
Some of the dignitaries present at the conference were Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Lieutenant Governor of Jammu & Kashmir Manoj Sinha, and NCB chief SN Pradhan, among others.
India’s Drug Menace
Drug trafficking is detrimental to society as it deeply impacts an individual, society, the economy, and the nation as a whole, Mr. Amit Shah said at the conference.
However, under the Center’s strong and focused anti-drug policy, there is progress against the societal menace in sight.
In the last 8-years—from 2014 to 2022—over 200% more drug trafficking cases have been registered as compared to 2003-2013. It is a 260% hike in the number of arrests made.
Between 2006-2013, the number of drugs seized more than doubled—the NCB arrested 1.5 lakh kg of drugs during that time. Between 2014-2022, some 3.3 lakh kilogrammes of drugs were seized.
The total value of drugs seized between 2006-2013 was estimated at Rs. 768 crores, and the same number increased to Rs. 20,000 crores between 2014-2021.
Highlighting that drug trafficking is more rampant in the border state of Punjab, Shah assured that the Centre stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the state to free the youth of Punjab from drugs and support Punjab in whatever it needs.
A forensic lab will be opened in Amritsar and an NCB centre will be set up to provide anti-drug trafficking training, Mr Shah said at the conference.
Mr Shah also said that they have identified 272 districts and more than 80,000 villages where more action is needed to prevent drug trafficking.
During the conference, Shri Amit Shah urged everyone to promise to help create a prosperous new India for the youth by pledging that they will abstain from narcotics altogether.
Some 21 states in India have set up anti-narcotics taskforces.