20 deaths over five years, this village battles drug menace
11,444 registered at Kapurthala rehab centre since 2018
The Tribune report.
-By Aparna Banerji
The kitchen slab in the one-room house of Paramjit Kaur (not her real name) at Dogranwala village in Kapurthala district showcases pictures of her five sons. They had died between 2015 and 2020 due to addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Among the population of 5,000, she is not the only one. The Tribune team’s visit to the village reveals similar stories in several other houses where youngsters had fallen prey to ‘chitta’. Villagers said since 2008, there have been around 50 deaths in the village. More than 20 have died in the last five years.
The records of a de-addiction centre in Kapurthala showed that 11,444 had registered for treatment since 2018. Of the total, 221 men have died in the district, with AIDS and hepatitis-B and C being the prime cause of the deaths. “The use of synthetic cocktails robs drug users of their strength, causing liver damage and other complications,” said Dr Sandeep Bhola, in-charge of the de-addiction centre.
Paramjit herself has lost four uncles and her father to the menace during the period. Saroop Singh (name changed) of the same locality lost two brothers to drugs. On October 21, another resident Shano (name changed) also lost her son. She didn’t even have the money to cremate him.
A senior villager said, “Besides recent deaths, Kai hor lagge hain line vich maran vaste, par sunde nahi (many others are lined up to die, but they don’t listen).”
Kapurthala MLA Rana Gurjeet Singh said, “This is indeed a simmering problem not just in Kapurthala, but also everywhere. There has to be some solution. The police must act against politicians shielding the culprits. Their role must be brought to the fore.”
Meanwhile, Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner Karnail Singh said, “While the law enforcement part is ensured by the police, at the administration end, we are
Holding regular meetings and awareness campaigns. Three government and a few private de-addiction centres.”