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Drug menace: Paul says policing needs to be strengthened in EJH

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SHILLONG, May 14: Social Welfare Minister Paul Lyngdoh on Tuesday called for strengthening policing in East Jaintia Hills, stating that narcotics largely enter Meghalaya through this district.
“Seventy per cent of narcotics that come to Meghalaya come via East Jaintia Hills district. I have pointed out to the Home Minister that we need to increase our policing at the entry points,” Lyngdoh said.
He said policing could be strengthened only by filling up over 3,000 vacant posts in the force and employing around 500 home guard volunteers. He said when all these happen, the government will be able to check the drug menace.
He pointed out that Meghalaya has one of the lowest police-civilian ratios in the country.
On the role of the department in tackling the drug problem, Lyngdoh said, “The fact that there have been more detentions, more cases being unearthed and more people brought to book shows the efficacy of the government.”
“Earlier, a lot of things were happening in a manner which was totally hidden but what you see now is intervention by the police,” he said while citing the cases of detention under the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (PIT NDPS) Act, 1988.
The Minister said under this Act, the final action of forwarding cases to the court is on and it will sit as soon as the election model code of conduct is lifted.
“Once the list is approved and forwarded to the advisory board, then you will have the first instance of people who have actually been placed under various preventive detentions for illegal trafficking of narcotics. It will come as a huge boost in our effort to contain the menace,” he said.
The PIT NDPS Act has scopes for preventive detention even before a crime is committed by a habitual drug user.  Stating that the Act was invoked last year and cases against certain habitual offenders have already been built, Lyngdoh said these people will come under detention under the revised Act.
“We have proposed a new mission director for the DREAM project because the current director is tied up with a number of responsibilities,” he said.
He further said that the Social Welfare department will not be able to successfully counter or bring down drug addiction on its own. This will need the involvement of the entire state machinery and the active support of the community, he added.
“We had exchange programmes with the faith leaders and various Durbars. The only problem we have right now is dearth of space to set up rehabilitation centres. Sensitisation programmes are still on,” he added.
To a query, Lyngdoh said, “…we have maintained that we need community participation. We have declared an all-out war against drugs…we have been requesting various Dorbars to come up with space for setting up a rehabilitation centre.”
Stating that fund constraint is an issue because of the general election, he said once a new government is installed in Delhi, the state government will further engage with the Ministry concerned on the matter.

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