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Govt to rope in VDPs to combat drug menace

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SHILLONG, June 7: The high-level consultative meeting, which was organised on Friday to hold deliberations over the issue of drugs, has decided to reconstitute the village defence parties (VDPs) to eliminate the pressing problem.
The meeting, which was held at the State Convention Centre and is part of the Drug Reduction Elimination & Action Mission (DREAM), was attended by as many as 60 Dorbar Shnongs from the Greater Shillong Area, government officials, MLAs and MDCs.
Organised by the State Social Welfare Department, in collaboration with the Home (Police) Department and the Office of the East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner, the primary objective of the meeting was to foster a collaborative approach to tackle the problem of substance abuse.
Following the meeting, Social Welfare Minister Paul Lyngdoh revealed that various stakeholders are in favour of the reconstitution of the VDPs, which have been active in combating crimes in rural areas.
“Today we had close to 60 Durbar Shnongs of Greater Shillong area and this inititive will also be taken to other districts. We have started with the Durbars of Greater Shillong area primarily because we would like to start from the state capital because there is a high concentration of trafficking and drug abuse,” said Lyngdoh.
“In the context of combating drug menace and the spread of narcotics, today we have decided that the various Durbar Shnongs will prepare themselves to constitute these VDPs. To begin with, we have to start by revisiting the various rules that have been framed in 2008. We need to update these rules in view of the growing challenges,” he added.
Lyngdoh also revealed that the government has taken inputs from the Durbars and indicated a timeline of three weeks to a month within which they will submit their various proposals for the amendment of the rules.
He said doing so will facilitate the reconstitution of the VDPs, who will go on to assist the government in combating the issue of drugs at the grassroots level.
“We have also decided that copies of the latest laws and rules like the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act will be circulated to these Durbar Shnongs and we will then solicit their views and opinions, suggestions in improving those rules,” Lyngdoh said.
He also informed that the meeting has decided that the elected representatives such as MLAs and MDCs will be covered in the consultation process to ensure the success of the DREAM project.
Stating that those were the fundamental decisions taken in the meeting, he said, “After receiving suggestions from the Durbars, we will then familiarise them with amenities, facilities and training required. We will also familiarise them with the basic rules that will govern the functioning of the VDPs and also the laws of the land that govern the control and reduction of drugs and narcotics.”
“We will ensure that the VDPs become the foot soldiers of the law enforcing agencies and together they will assist us in identifying, especially in the hotspots, potential drug traffickers. With their support, we should be able to eradicate the drug menace,” he added.

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