Sunday, December 10, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Preachers in the grip of drugs
From Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Dec 9 — Gola Singh (name changed) of Mansa district, a religious preacher in this region, has been taking ‘bhang’ (marijuana) for the past 10 years for a kick. However, feeling isolation from society, he has now decided to get himself deaddicted. He has started getting treatment in the local deaddiction centre managed by the Red Cross Society.

Gurmail Singh (name changed), another religious preacher, who consumed poppy husk for about 20 years is also getting himself deaddicted.

A large number of people of this region have been succumbing to the lure of drugs. Drug addiction among adolescents and youths has acquired alarming proportions.

According to information gathered by TNS, addiction among the religious preachers, who are supposed to guide the public to lead a meaningful life and serve humanity, is high.

Official sources said that so far more than 50 religious preachers of this region had reported at deaddiction centres for treatment. In certain cases, the religious preachers had also become a source of supply of intoxicants for other drug addicts.

Only five religious preachers got themselves deaddicted in 1998, two in 1999 and six had taken treatment up to November, 2000.

One religious preacher of a village in Mansa district, who first got himself deaddicted at a local deaddiction centre, motivated 13 other residents of the same village to get themselves deaddicted. All these persons were now getting treatment in the local deaddiction centre.

Drug addiction has gripped this region in such a way that it has become prominent in every section of society, including teachers, police personnel, registered medical practitioners (RMPs), Army personnel, agriculturists and school and college going students. More than 70 per cent of the population of this region has been hooked to one drug or the other.

Dr Mehboob Singh Sran, Project Director, Deaddiction centre, said that at the centre, the religious preachers were not only deaddicted but were motivated to preach against drug addiction.

He added that religious preachers were coming to deaddiction centres as they had started feeling that their reputation had been affected.

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