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Posted at: Aug 20, 2018, 8:57 PM; last updated: Aug 20, 2018, 10:05 PM (IST)

Northern states, Chandigarh join hands to fight drug menace

To set up common secretariat at Panchkula
Northern states, Chandigarh join hands to fight drug menace
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar (L) and Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat (R) during a conference in Chandigarh on Monday. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, August 20

A majority of northern states on Monday decided to set up a joint secretariat at Panchkula for data and information sharing to effectively fight the drug menace.

The decision was taken here at a conference of the northern states’ chief ministers, convened to evolve and formulate a joint strategy to fight the malady, said an official spokesperson of the Punjab government.

The conference was attended by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar and Uttarakhand CM T S Rawat with their Himachal Pradesh counterpart Jai Ram Thakur participating in it through video conference as he was unable to come here due to bad weather.

The meet, ‘Regional Conference on Drugs Challenges & Strategies’, was also attended by senior civil and police officers from these states, besides those of Rajasthan, Delhi and the union territory of Chandigarh.

Seeking to invite the Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir governments too to join the anti-drug fight, the conference envisaged having a nodal officer from each of the northern states at the joint secretariat at Panchkula to coordinate and facilitate the data sharing process.

The conference envisaged holding regular meets at different levels, including a quarterly one of state chief secretaries or police chiefs and a half-yearly one of the chief ministers to monitor the progress in the anti-drug fight and upgrade its strategy against the malady, the spokesperson said.

He said the meet mandated the SSPs of the adjoining districts of the states to coordinate their anti-drug actions on a day to day basis.

Launching major awareness campaigns among school students, engaging village youths in sports and other physical activities and helping them upgrade their skills were proposed to be the other initiatives of the states to insulate youths from the drug menace, the spokesperson said.

During the meeting, the Punjab Chief Minister mooted a slew of ideas, including evolution of a “Regional Cooperative Framework” of the northern states to institutionalise the inter-state and inter-agency coordination to deal with the menace, he said.

The framework would be aimed at achieving effective coordination and sharing of information and intelligence to undertake joint operations against the drug peddlers and smugglers, he said.

Suggesting that all the affected states approach the Centre for funds for drug prevention, Amarinder Singh also sought deputation of nodal officers from various central agencies like the BSF, DRI, NCB, RPF, CISF and Customs at the states’ joint secretariat at Panchkula as a necessary measure for closer coordination in the anti-drug fight.

Mooting other measures like joint training of security personnel, utilisation of the services of NGOs and medical professional in the anti-drug fight, Amarinder Singh also called for effective sealing of and surveillance along the international and states borders to curb the movements of drug smugglers.

Emphasising upon the need for a “National Policy on Drugs”, Amarinder Singh said there must be restrictions on farming drug-producing plants too in various states.

Participating in the meet, Haryana Chief Minister M L Khattar emphasised upon having fast-track courts to decide drug cases, while his Himachal counterpart Jai Ram Thakur suggested invoking the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act against the drug peddlers.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Rawat expressed concern over the women too increasingly taking to drugs.

The Himachal Pradesh CM said the state was already working closely with Punjab Police to crack down on smuggling of drugs through joint operations.

The Chandigarh DGP sought harsher punishments for those selling drugs to children and suggested that such peddlers be booked under the Juvenile Act also, besides the NDPS Act.

An Additional Commissioner of Delhi Police, who participated in the meet, too stressed upon the need for data and information sharing among all the states on priority. PTI

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