Punjab CM Amarinder Singh said that government employees failed to clear the dope test, will not be sacked and that the government will provide them with proper treatment. Besides, he said that the identity of such staff will be kept confidential.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s crackdown on the drug menace in the state has sent ripples across the government machinery. Punjab government’s latest order states that every government official will have to mandatorily undergo a drug test at the time of joining, and at every stage of career progression. The dope test is compulsory for all government staff, including the police.
The move has led to strong apprehensions among several quarters over the impact that the move would have on officials who test positive and whether this could lead to them being sacked. On one hand, such apprehensions are indicative of the depth to which the menace of drug addiction has crept into the state. On othe other hand, it also reflects genuine worries that the officials may have regarding undue harassment or whether they would be found guilty even if all they did was consume a few spoons of cough syrup.
Nevertheless, Amarinder Singh’s decision shows that the government machinery has not remained untouched by the drug menace, and the CM is well aware of it. There have been several police officials who have been charged with involvement in the drug trade and acted against. Earlier this month, several police officials were suspended for delay in initiating actions against drug smugglers. While a DSP rank officer was dismissed from service for forcing a Ludhiana woman into drugs, as many as six were suspended at two different police stations in Sangrur. The state government said that actions were taken against officers to send out a strong message that officials failing to discharge their duties in accordance with the government’s directives, will be subject to punishment.
However, the Chief Minister has clarified that his government’s order making a dope test mandatory for all government staff including the police, is not aimed at punishing or harassing them. Amid apprehensions that the government may initiative punitive action against employee tested positive, he said that the employees failed to clear the dope test, will not be sacked and that the government will provide them with proper treatment. Besides, he said that the identity of such staff will be kept confidential.
The clarification comes on Monday after the CM chaired a review meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee set up to monitor the progress of the Congress government’s anti-drug campaign. The CM directed the Chief Secretary to formulate guidelines for conducting dope test.
The Chief Minister also ordered various steps to be implemented in order to check drug menace. SHOs have been asked to ensure villages in their jurisdiction be made drug free in a time-bound manner.
Amarinder Singh said that the state government will pay for the treatment of drug addicts at the government-run hospital for those who can’t afford treatment. He also said that an order has been issued to increase and enhance the capacity at the de-addiction centres to admit the victims and provide them proper treatment. The CM said that he has also directed the Health Department to take help of private clinics to boost the OTTs.
Besides, all Cabinet ministers have been directed to visit their respective districts and hold meetings with concerned officials, NGOs and civil society to spread awareness about the government’s anti-drug campaign.
The government had recently recommended to the Centre to include the death penalty in the NDPS Act for first-time offenders. The law has a provision of capital punishment but for second-time offenders. This was followed by an order asking all government staff to undergo the dope test. The government even said that all new recruits will also have to undergo the dope test at different stages throughout the period of service.
According to media reports, in last one month, at least 23 youths in the state have lost their lives due to drug-related activities.