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Northern states to set up task force to tackle drug menace

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Chandigarh, Jul 26: Terming drugs a national problem, the second Joint Conference of Chief Ministers of the northern states on Thursday decided to set up a joint working group, involving officials of the Health and Social Justice departments of all states, to share experiences and best practices in their respective campaigns against drugs.

The states expressed concern over the inflow of drugs from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria and other countries, and called for closer collaboration to battle the menace and make the region “Nasha Mukt”.

In a joint statement issued at the end of the conference, the Chief Ministers of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, joined by top officials from Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh, agreed on a series of powerful measures to eradicate the drugs scourge from the region.

These included joint operations at the inter-state borders, information-sharing and implementation of the best practices of the participating states.

There was consensus among the states on the importance of strengthening the information-sharing mechanism on drugs and drug dealers and smugglers, for a more effective crackdown against them.

It was also agreed that all the states would launch major awareness programs and strive to make eradication of drugs a peoples’ movement.

The conference recognised drugs as a national problem, requiring collective efforts of all the states for its successful eradication.

It proposed, therefore, to jointly press the Government of India to come out with a National Drugs Policy in order to effectively tackle the menace.

It agreed to consider opening of a Regional Training Centre for Training of Investigators for proper investigation of NDPS cases at Chandigarh.

The states also agreed to take up with the Government of India a proposal to establish a Regional Drug Dependence Treatment Centre in Chandigarh Tricity area, on the lines of National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) AIIMS, New Delhi.

“We believe that these efforts will go a long way in eradicating this scourge from the region, thus protecting our youth and our future generations, and ensuring a safe, secure and healthy society,” said the joint statement.

The states further said they were committed to “continuing and strengthening the process of consultation and cooperation, to collaborate even more closely and actively for making the region ‘Nasha Mukt’.”

The conference, which opened with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh suggesting some tough measures to tackle the problem, was attended by officials of IB, NCB and other central agencies.

Underscoring the growing threat from “ISI’s narco terrorism game-plan”, Amarinder Singh said “the money from the drug trade was being used by Pakistan to carry on its nefarious and divisive activities in India.

“The ISI is trying to play on the sympathies of the Sikhs through steps like the Kartarur Corridor while, at the same time, trying to destabilise Punjab by backing SFJ’s Referendum 2020,” he said.

“The ISI continued to back terror groups, with Pak factory-made grenades found to have been used for terror activities in Punjab,” he added.

Describing the conference as a red letter-day for mutual cooperation among the states, the Chief Minister, however, called for closer examination of laws like MCOCA before implementing them in other states as they had a lot of scope for misuse.

He, however, agreed on the need to further strengthen the NDPS Act.


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