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Couple adopts martyr’s village to wean youths off drugs

Revolutionary Kartar Singh Sarabha’s native place turned drug hotspot in recent past

Couple adopts martyr’s village to wean youths off drugs

People queue up outside a drug rehabilitation centre at the Civil Hospital in Jagraon near Ludhiana on Tuesday. Tribune Photo



Tribune News Service

Nitin Jain

Sarabha (Ludhiana), May 23

This sleepy village on the outskirts of Ludhiana was till recently known for being the native place of an Indian revolutionary and a fearless martyr, Kartar Singh Sarabha.

But in the recent past, it earned a dubious distinction of being a drug hotspot after losing over 12 lives to drugs and many residents, especially youths, hooked to contrabands.

Events to mark martyr’s birth anniv today

A cycle rally, walkathon and a blood donation camp were among the main events that will be held at Sarabha village on Wednesday to mark the birth anniversary of martyr Kartar Singh Sarabha with an objective to spread awareness against drugs.

Pained to know about the plight of the villagers, who would take pride in their great martyr, who was executed for his role in the Ghadar Movement against the British at the age of 19, a retired Colonel, Mandip Grewal, and his wife Kamaljit Grewal came forward to adopt Sarabha village.

A decorated Gallantry Medal officer, Colonel Grewal, along with his wife, decided to take up the challenge of eradicating the drug menace with the support of the local civil and police administration.

“Together, we planned to help our village overcome this stigma,” Colonel Grewal told The Tribune, here, on Tuesday. A native of Sarabha, he was busy overseeing arrangements for tomorrow’s event when a host of activities would be held to mark the 128th birth anniversary of martyr Kartar Singh Sarabha.

A cycle rally, walkathon and a blood donation camp were among the main events that will be held here on Wednesday with an objective to spread awareness against drugs. Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh would be the chief guest on the occasion.

Sharing details of his anti-drug drive initiated recently, Colonel Grewal said he, along with his wife, went door-to-door and visited schools and colleges of the area to spread the message of how drugs harm the human body.

After deliberations with the residents, the couple got a resolution passed by the panchayat against drugs and roped in the sarpanch and panches to take forward the drive.

“Slowly, but surely, people started calling us and sought our help to save their sons,” revealed Colonel Grewal, who took them to different de-addiction centres and outpatient opioid assisted treatment (OOAT) centres.

However, it was a tough challenge as most of these boys were on drugs for the past six to eight years and were also suffering from other allied diseases.

Besides seeking help from the civil and police administration, the couple was also joined by students and management of several schools and colleges in their mission to free Sarabha of drugs.

“Our aim is to prevent more children from getting addicted to drugs and our efforts have started showing results with they now having a renewed sense of hope and the feeling among the villagers that Sarabha will become a drug-free model for the entire state,” he said.

The couple’s slogan, “Bacchey bachao, drugs khatam karo” has become popular among the villagers, who have started believing in it.

“We aspire to achieve the goal of making Sarabha a drug-free village before the martyrdom day of Kartar Singh Sarabha that falls on November 16,” the retired Col asserted.

He said around 12 persons had died due to drug overdose in the past few years and a similar count of youths had so far been weaned off drugs during the drive.

The drive was putting special emphasis on Class IX to XII students and those studying in three colleges in the village vicinity.

Activities being undertaken under the campaign included regular liaison with civil and police officials, lecture against drugs in colleges and schools, drawings and other extracurricular activities, educating students and parents against drugs in parent and teacher meetings, door-to-door campaign with village women in the forefront carrying the message against drugs, and also taking into loop neighbouring villages and sharing with them details of drug addicts identified in Sarabha.

“We just believe in giving back something useful to society,” the couple added.

Meanwhile, a visit to the village revealed that the couple’s anti-drugs drive has started making an impact with the villagers taking a vow against drugs.

“No one can sell or take drugs, no one can help any addict, anyone doing it will be boycotted,” the village panchayat has unanimously resolved.

Boards have been put across the village against drugs, with information about drugs and helpline numbers. Besides, announcements against drugs were being made through public address systems regularly from all religious places on a daily basis.

“The couple is trying hard to bring the community together in the fight against drugs. Their efforts are commendable and they are gradually making progress towards their goals,” a resident of the village, Ram Singh, said.

Sarabha is the native village of Kartar Singh Sarabha, the revolutionary and fearless martyr. Earlier famous for being the great martyr’s birthplace, it earned a dubious distinction of being a drug hotspot in the recent past.

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