Why is there a drug problem in Punjab?
Why is there a drug problem in Punjab? (Photo: The Quint)
  • 1. Opium: An Old Story
  • 2. Drug ‘Problem’ Suddenly?
  • 3. Not Just a Party Problem
  • 4. Govt Myopia To Blame?
  • 5. Rajasthan Headed the ‘Punjab’ Way
  • 6. Government Response
Why Does Punjab Have a Drug Problem? The Untold Story

During the run up to the Punjab elections, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh put his hand on the gutka (holy text) and vowed to “end the drug menace within four weeks” of coming to power. A year and four months later, he has sought mandatory death sentence for first-time convicts for manufacture, possession and smuggling of commercial quantities of narcotics, as specified in the Act.

For decades the government has attributed the inflow of drugs into the state via Pakistan, why then has the drug menace reared its ugly head only in the last decade leading to the demand of such harsh legislation? Punjab has been a border state for 69 years. So what’s changed?

The Quint spoke to doctors, surveyors and people from the security establishment to get answers.

  • 1. Opium: An Old Story

    Opium or doda or phukki, as it is traditionally known, has been consumed by farmers and farm workers in Punjab as also many other parts of India for decades. It’s essentially opium husk – the leftover husk of the opium plant once the milk has been extracted.

    At least one-third of the rural population consumes opium in Punjab. To put it in perspective, opium consumption among the rural population is a bit like the urban concept of a customary two drinks after a hard day’s work. It may not be great for you, but will not do you much harm, right? Plus, the daily doze of opium used to cost Rs 30-40 – light on the pocket.


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