Drug overdose claimed 95 lives last year: RTI - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Friday, March 29, 2019

Drug overdose claimed 95 lives last year: RTI

Drug overdose claimed 95 lives last year: RTI

Nikhil Bhardwaj

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 28

Even as the government has been denying reports related to deaths due to drug overdose, information procured under the RTI from the state police has confirmed that 95 young people had lost their lives in such cases last year, averaging eight per month.

The media had widely reported drug-related deaths in June and July last year, but the state government remained evasive on the issue for several months.

The government’s contrasting stand was witnessed in the last Assembly session too, when initially Health Minister Brahm Mohindra said there were just two such deaths and later in reply to a question in the House, he had revealed that chemical examination confirmed 56 drug deaths in 2018-19 and 11 in 2017-18. Amritsar reported the maximum 11 deaths in 2018-19, while Tarn Taran nine.

In many cases, even syringes were found stuck to the arms of the deceased. While the police had initiated inquest proceedings under Section 174 CrPc in most cases, in others, they registered cases of abetment to suicide or culpable homicide or causing death due to negligence.

On March 4, a 17-year-old youth died in Ludhiana due to suspected drug overdose. A case of causing death due to negligence under Section 304A IPC was registered against his friends on the basis of his mother’s statement.

The Opposition has been continuously questioning the government for allegedly downplaying the issue. Deputy Leader of Opposition in Punjab Vidhan Sabha Saravjit Kaur Manuke said four days ago, a youth died in Jagraon due to drug overdose, but the police mentioned heart attack as the cause of death. “Whenever there is a death due to drug overdose, the police always try to hide the cause,” she claimed.

“Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh is not ready to accept the reality. The high number of casualty calls for a review of government policies. The government should tighten the noose aroung big drug suppliers and give priority to rehabilitation of the addicts, else the youth of Punjab will continue to fall prey to this evil,” Manuka claimed.

RTI activist Rohit Sabharwal said it took him six months to get the information from the Punjab Police. The authorities concerned had the information several times on one pretext or the other, but he kept pursuing the matter, he said.

Mohindra said most of the drug-related deaths were taking place due to mixture of chemical and synthetic drugs. “The government is already taking steps to control the situation. Our OOAT centres are functional across the state, which are helping addicts to shun drugs. I cannot comment further until I see the information supplied by the police.”

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