“MAKKE DI ROTI, TE SARSO DA SAAG, YE HAI SADDA PUNJAB.” A typical Punjab village, atleast how bollywood portrays is – a yellow-green stretch of mustard fields, fires lit in the night where muscular youth have been performing the bhangra after endless rounds of lassi while the women sing Punjabi tappe and showcase a beautiful form of dance, known as gidda.
The description sounds fascinating, right? But the disappointment will follow if you ever visit ‘this village’ anytime soon because there you won’t find a glass of lassi but smoking pipe of bhooki (poppy husk). Listen to ‘Chitta Ve’ or watch trailer of ‘Udta Punjab’ for that matter, and you’ll find the Punjab that is high of LSD, ecstasy, heroine or marijuana. Yes! The truth about magnificent state of five rivers is as abashing as it gets, the youth of Punjab has been luxuriating itself in the drug abuse for a long time now.
Studies, Stats and Surveys
Four out of ten men are addicted to some or other drug. It is estimated that 50 per cent of those addicts are young farmers – 15 per cent are addicted to poppy husk (known as bhooki), 20 per cent are addicted to synthetic drugs churned out by pharma companies in neighboring state, Himachal Pradesh.
Drug addiction in Punjab has gone to all new level and it is alarming. 75 per cent of youth (15 to 25 years) are reported to abuse heroin near border areas and 73 per cent in other rural areas throughout the region. A Department of Social Security Development of Women and Children suggested that not only there’s a death due to drug abuse each week in rural areas but almost 67 per cent of households in Punjab have at least one drug addict in the family.
UN published its figure of drug addicts (0.2 per cent) in a study called ‘Addiction’, which also happens to be the world’s top journal in the field. One of the interesting fundamental rules of this study is the age limit, people from age of 15 to 64 are considered in the study. If this rule were to apply in the case Punjab, the population under this bracket will count to 1.8 crore. And doing the most precise math here, the rate of drug addiction comes out to be 1.2 per cent. Comparing the two statistics, it is as shocking as saddening – Drug addiction in Punjab is six times the world average and almost twice the national’s (0.7 per cent). Also, several recent surveys in past year indicate a sharp increase in the rate of HIV infections in the Punjab. The national prevalence of HIV is 9 per cent but in Punjab, it is a little less than three times the value – 26 per cent.
No less than 5000 drug addicts are admitted to 51 rehabilitation centers across the state every year for the treatment. ”Till 2007, number of addicts admitted to re-had were no more than 80 to 85 but now it’s elevated to 190 in some centers,” says Amanjeet Singh, president of the Punjab State Drug Counseling and Rehabilitation Centers Union.
Controversy over reports based on sample studies
Most of data is based on the survey conducted by AIIMS under the supervision of Dr Atul Ambedkar. The percentage of addicts and the analytical data have always been subjected to either political or social controversies. Some say it is mere exaggeration of the number to malign the state. They try to reason their arguments by reminding the opulent lifestyles of ‘PUNJABIS.’ On the other hand some rational believers are of the view that Punjab might turn into next Mexico if the elephant in the room is not addressed.
Breaking the silence on the matter Dr Atul Ambedkar explained the basis of the study. He said, only adults were considered during the study. The population of 1.9 crore – aged 18 or above reside in Punjab, says the census. And working with that data 1.2 per cent of the adult population is addicted to drugs. This data is for “drug addicts” and as for ‘users’, the number to be 8.6 lakh is estimated by AIIMS. Further implication of the data reveals that 4.5 per cent of Punjab’s adult population has at least ‘used’ drugs. Elaborating his sentence Dr Atul also asked the people to follow a healthy routine and eradicate drugs from the state irrespective of his study.
As obvious as it is, the fact of using drug abuse for political purposes is quite evident. Earlier this year Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal denied the rising drug addiction in Punjab, calling it exaggeration, he said, “2.77 crore is the population of the state, and only 0.06 per cent of
this population were found using drugs.”
Prior to this in year 2012, Rahul Gandhi – Vice President of Congress flashed a report statement of an investigation by Dr Atul Ambedkar of AIIMS. According to this report 70 per cent of Punjab is indulge in drugs.
And it wasn’t recently when Delhi’s Cm Arvind Kejriwal declared a war on drug mafia. He lashed on the state government several times, he said, “drug dealers have nothing to fear and this has to stop.” Urging the public to support AAP in next Vidhan Sabha elections he quoted, “”NA BHOOKI KO NA DAARU, APNA VOTE DE JHAARU KO.” Also, he mentioned, once voted to power, AAP will end goonda tax in one day and will jail the drug dealers in 3 months. The same tone is conveyed by Akali leaders, who fear the loss in 2017’s election.
Breaking down the consequences to individual level, the abuse of drugs not only degrades your physical health, but your mental strength is torn apart, you’re ripped emotionally and unaccepted socially.
The habit (DRUG ABUSE) once inculcated is hard to leave, and harder to admit and come out. Without any second thought, Drug addiction in Punjab has to stop! It can only be possible if the youth realizes its potential and the fact that they can do better than this.