Wednesday, March 7, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Death stalks drug addicts of Maqboolpura
Varinder Walia

Amritsar, March 6
With the death of three more drug addicts due to overdose of drugs, the death toll in Maqboolpura, called a locality of widows, has reached to 50 in five years.

The addicts, more dead than alive, can be seen walking in the colony. They inject drugs into their bodies while the police turns a blind eye to the open sale of drugs in this Scheduled Caste-dominated colony.

“The police is hand in glove with drug peddlars who are responsible for causing at least 10 deaths every year. With the locality losing its men to drugs, the agencies concerned have yet to wake up from their slumber.

The police has failed to check the open sale of “controlled drugs”. Easy availability of these drugs leads to their over consumption. The increasing number of deaths in this colony has been giving sleepless nights to the residents as the ‘widows’ and orphans find it difficult to eke out their living after losing their bread winners. Though the highly addictive substance, starting from the border belt of Amritsar, has found its way into various parts of this holy city, not much headway seems to have been made to contain the menace as the drug peddlars reportedly have the patronage of political persons.

Master Ajit Singh, Dr P.P. Singh and Jathedar Raghbir Singh Sahota, who have launched an awareness campaign by forming the Nasha Virodhi Sangathan, said the menace could not be curbed until the sale of such substances was stopped.

The three addicts who died last week were Manjit Singh, alias Gunga, Pamma, a resident of Gali No 6, and Jugnu, a resident of Gali No 5.

Family members of the drug addicts have turned beggers as they have no source of income. The dropout rate from schools of children living in this locality has increased manifold. Mr Brij Bedi, husband of supercop Kiran Bedi, has adopted a few children of the locality and bears expenses for their studies.

Addict Pappu Baba was crushed to death when he threw himself before a train. Thirteen-year-old ‘Dana’, who was working as a courier for drug peddlars, has started taking drugs himself. His condition is pitiable.

Many addicts who cannot afford to buy drugs resort to thieving. One such addict, ‘Khanda’, was beaten to death when caught stealing in a house of the locality.

Dr Avtar Singh Sandhu, district president, Dalit Sena, and member, Telephone Advisory Committee, who also belongs to this locality, said hundreds of youths administer drug injections to their selves in secluded places. The Tribune team found several addicts in an abandoned house in Maqboolpura while injecting drugs into their bodies.

Mangal Dass (25), who is on his death-bed, told this correspondent that he would buy drug injections at a high rate from a ‘nurse’ who openly sold drugs in connivance with the local police.

His mother, Veer Kaur, said his son, who was a rickshaw-puller, was a healthy person before he took to the drugs. Now he would spend his entire income on the purchase of drugs. His father, Ajit Singh, said his son had once jumped from the roof of their house when he refused to give him money for purchasing drugs. His parents, who cannot afford the treatment of their son, have requested the local pingalwara to admit him.

Balwant Singh, an orphan, said he was a wrestler before he was hooked on drugs. “I want to die now as I can’t even walk properly”.

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