Friday, 25 December 2015

Several news papers, particularly of Punjab, have been avoiding publishing my articles, so henceforth, i shall be writing only for my blog.
Shashi Kant

Saturday, 25 July 2015

The 'D' Trail

Language and literature are the essence of any civilization. Language is the mode of expression where as literature is the most important manifestation of the progress or decline of any civilization. Humans as also animals have their own language. They denote things good and bad. One would not have thought that over a period of time, some words or letters of a language could become unpalatable and denote different things. In the Indian context, letters like ‘K’, ‘M’, ‘K2M’, ‘N’ etc have denoted different things, issues, problems and even political philosophy. In not too distant a past the ‘D’ word was and, for that matter, still is dreaded along with its expansion, ‘the D Company’. Then since 2007, the letter ‘D’ started denoting another thing, ‘Drugs’. It became the talk of the town in the areas west of Delhi, particularly Punjab when I exposed the ongoing drug racket  in Punjab which has its tentacles spreading all over the world and there after ‘the hell let loose’. No, I am not talking about the threats which were given to me or the attempts on my life, but the attention of the anti drug agencies of some countries of Europe, Australian and America continents which started rushing to Punjab for ‘inquiry and investigation’. The ‘D’ word even prompted the Indian politicians including Rahul Gandhi and later the Prime Minister of India, who referred to it in his ‘Man Ki Baat’. People of Punjab thought that something worthwhile, some positive step was now imminent, but they are still waiting. Life goes on. With a view to create awareness on the issue, I feel that probably it is time to let people know what exactly this deadly ‘D’ trail is. The contents of this article are based on my study, research, inquiries and individual investigations spanning last about three years, starting 2012.
The present article concerns only one type of drug that is ‘OPIATES’; heroine and its derivatives. From this angle, the world, as it exists today, has two major opium producing areas, the ‘Golden Triangle’ consisting of Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and surrounding areas on the North Eastern side of India and the ‘Golden Crescent’ on other side which consists of Afghanistan, North West Frontier Province of Pakistan and surrounding areas. The generic names, ‘Crescent’ and the ‘Triangle’ denote the general shape of the concerned opium producing area.
                                      Image result for golden crescent and the golden triangles
The ‘Golden Crescent’
Traditionally, the ‘Crescent’ has been a poppy cultivation area and opium was being used both as an addiction as also a medicine. The area however, saw a boom in the opium production during the years 1979-1989. These years, also known as the Soviet Period witnessed a rise in the ‘Mujahidin’ movement with the tacit help of the United States and its allies to seek the ouster of Soviets from the area. Afghan warlords and regional commanders used the opportunity to drastically promote opium production so that with opium and its drug money, they could purchase more and more arms and declare their suzerainty. With the withdrawal of Soviets in 1989, various Mujahidin factions started fighting within themselves in their bid to capture as mush areas as each of them could. In view of the withdrawal of the Soviet army, U.S.A. and allies also cut down their help to Mujahidin and the latter resorted to poppy growing and opium trade in their respective area to purchase arms and weapons. This period was followed by the period of rise of Taliban, during the years 1994-2001. A bumper crop of 4500 metric tons of opium was reported in year 1999. Though Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and some others tried to impose a ban on opium production calling it ‘anti Islamic’ but not much of success was achieved. Starting 2008, Taliban insurgency is now generally supporting cultivation of poppy and production of opium. Now opium, the ‘Black Gold’ is another name for money and several high officials, Taliban, war lords and insurgents are encouraging local farmers to cultivate poppy and produce opium. In Afghanistan, the regions of Helmand and Kandhar top the opium production, followed by lesser areas including Farah, Badghis, Day Kundi, Urozgan and Zabul, though not necessarily in that sequence because production has often been varying.
Image result for map of afghanistan

There have been allegations that besides the Mujahidin, warlords and corrupt officials; the C.I.A. and a large number of 32,000 regular foreign troops of the N.A.T.O., 8,000 U.S. and other special operations forces, primarily the ‘Contracted’ (read Mercenary) soldiers did promote the initial international illegal drug trade from across Afghanistan. Antonio Maria Costa, an Executive Director of U.N.O.D.C (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) had rightly described the situation in Afghanistan saying that, ‘There is no rule of law in most of the Southern Afghanistan- THE BULLETS RULE’.
Traditional routes of drug smuggling through Balkans, into erstwhile U.S.S.R, now new countries there from like Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan besides Iran, Turkey and Pakistan still continue. Mid 1980s, witnessed the opening of a new route that is through Indian Punjab. This route was the brain child of the Pakistani I.S.I. which needed huge amounts of money for their nefarious design, dismembering of our Punjab from rest of India. They did not encounter much problem in this. Petty smugglers from both India and Pakistan had been working as ‘double agents’ for their respective intelligence agencies ever since the partition of the country. They primarily operated through the borders along Gujarat, Rajasthan and Punjab besides, to a lesser extent, J&K. Punjabis living in both Indian and Pakistani Punjab, have had old ethnic and economic bonding. They are also well off as compared to the population living on either side of the border along other states.  We still have similarly named subs castes in both Punjabs. The initial years of Indian independence had witnessed heavy fluctuations in the international prices of gold. Western Maharashtra and Indian Punjab emerged as major centers of gold smuggling. Smugglers like Haji Mastan as also a number of Punjabis living across the borders had access to money, basic ingredient for gold smuggling. Quite a few highly placed political families of yesteryear's of Punjab as also some high official of the police and security forces were known to be top gold smugglers. I.S.I. did not have much problem in cultivating the descendants of such families and also several other petty smugglers and to lure into the trade of drug smuggling across the border. They were already ‘out of trade’ because of the somewhat ‘stabilizing international gold prices’. The drug trade has immense margin and in the initial years, they were just interested in pushing the drugs into India on their way to the ultimate destination, Europe and the United States. The smuggling was via Delhi and there ill famed Paharganj was the center for storage, cooling off and further export, one way or the other. It was only over a period of time that some of the Indian smugglers started adulterating the heroin and selling them in Punjab and elsewhere to make a quick buck because the normal mode of payments through ‘hawala’, often took time and was made only after the receipt of the consignment. The mode of payment now, is through internet banking with some of the notorious banks. Such accounts are generally maintained in various smaller countries, both in South East Asia and European / American continents. The trade goes on with the direct involvement and blessings of some political big wigs belonging to various parties as also greasing the palms of officials of the security forces and the police.  Number of ‘Front’ NGOs and business establishments are also making a quick buck on the corpses of the young and other addicts, generally Punjabis. None of the Punjab or central governments have seriously tried even to study the problem, what to talk of trying to nip it.
The ‘Golden Triangle’
‘Golden Triangle’ consisting of mountainous regions of Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and the surrounding areas sits on the North Eastern side of India. Until 21st century, most of world’s
heroin came from this region which also designates the confluence of Ruak and the Mekong rivers. Within this region Myanmar takes the lead coming only next to Afghanistan in the matter of opium production. As per a UNODC report, in year 2005, about 430 sq. km of its area was under opium cultivation. A study of the Golden Triangle makes a fascinating and interesting study, bordering unique ‘romanticism, mysticism, intreague and a bone chilling trail of cruelty and ruthlessness’ as compared to a blatantly raw and brutally violent story of the Golden Crescent. This area prominently figures in the Chinese opium wars and the mystic Chinese secret societies.
Despite the crackdown on the drug lord Khun Sa’s Mong Tai army and his subsequent surrender, opium cultivation continues unabated in the tribal regions of Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and some adjacent areas. Primary reason there for is the extreme poverty of the region and lure of money to them by major opiate growing and exporting organizations operating primarily from the American continent, besides the urban Chinese centers in Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and even Kolkata etc. Latter is again emerging as a major hub because of the increased vigilance in other regions. Investigations with respect to the ‘Triangle’ have been more open and indicting as compared to the ‘Crescent’ where none, worth its name has taken place.
Opium and heroin base produced in north eastern Myanmar are transported on the backs of horses and donkey, moving in caravan, to the ‘refineries’ on Thailand and Myanmar border for conversion into high grade heroin. Finished product is known to have been sent in all neighbouring ‘areas’ primarily Bangkok, followed by Kolkata for further distribution. Some  South East Asian countries have established cartels controlling the trade. The trade from this region is primarily in the hands of Ethnic Chinese. The primary destination of drug produced in this region, is North America, both the United States and Canada. There also trade of this drug is again primarily in the hands of Chinese associated with various Triad societies.                   
A triad is one of the Chinese transnational organized criminal organizations. They are primarily based in Hong Kong, Macaw, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand as also in Kolkata and various other countries having significant Chinese population including United States, Canada, England, France, Australia, South Africa etc. some Chinese Triads claim their origin in China way back in 1760s. While talking of a Triad, mention also needs to be made of ‘Tongs’, literally meaning a ‘Hall’ or gathering place, they are also to be found in Canada and in United States. They are secret societies or ‘sworn brotherhood’ and are often known to be indulging in criminal activities. Tongs follow the pattern of the secret societies existing in Southern China, e.g. Tiandihui. The trade of the heroin / drugs produced in the Golden Triangle is primarily in the hands of these Triad and Tongs.
Emerging Patterns
My extensive study of the global activities related to Drugs has led to some shocking revelations and patterns.
To start with, obviously it is a worldwide phenomenon. Drug in question, that is heroin of various purities and potencies are primarily produced in Asia, in the areas falling within the Golden Crescent and the Golden Triangle. The ultimate destination of major part of this drug is United States, Europe and Australia. It has many routes, but India has become one of the major routes of its smuggling or ‘export’ abroad. The other lethal drug, that is Cocaine is primarily produced in South America and is ‘exported’ all over world. Of late India has also become its ‘significant’, if not major importer.
In Afghanistan opium trade is known to have the patronage of a section of Mujahidin, regional war lords and high Afghan army and civil officials. There are allegations that the CIA is still actively involved in drug trafficking because of its requirement of huge amounts of money for their clandestine operations all over the world. There are several books and writings to this effect, notable being works of Alfred McCoy, Peter Dale Scott and journalists like Alexander Cockburn and Gary Webb. Their ‘exposures’ led to various ‘official’ investigations by American Senate and others. Similarly there have been allegations about the role of the Russian secret agencies.
In Pakistan the dreaded I.S.I. started this game with vengeance against India. Top Pakistani army brass, which controls the government there, either directly or indirectly remain willful partners in the trade, using this money for their personal as also the ‘misguided plan’ against India. Of late, on account of the international ‘exposure’ they are said have transferred the actual trade to top smugglers and dons, including Dawood Ibrahim, who work under the patronage of the I.S.I., top Pak army officials and politicians.
Studies indicate that in India that is Punjab, is the only country where the drug trade is going on with active political connivance and support of corrupt police and security officials. The borders and routes through Turkey, Iran and the new neighbouring countries emerging after the downfall of the U.S.S.R. and bordering Afghanistan, the trade is protected and carried out by drug cartels directly which pass on drug money of security and other officials besides some top politicians on ‘as is where is’ basis. Same is true in respect of Russia, Australia and various European countries through which the drugs pass. These drug cartels have been using various nationalities to act as their conduits and carriers.
It appears that in the developing and underdeveloped countries, falling on the international drug route, this nefarious trade is going on either under the direct or indirect political patronage where as in the developed countries, it is the ‘responsibility’ either of the established drug cartels, organized crime syndicates as also their dreaded intelligence agencies. It is only a matter of time that the drug trade in developing countries is also taken over by organized crime syndicates and drug cartels.
And The 'D' Trail continues…

*Note: Pictures and Maps are from the internet.


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

September 2013
Start of my JUDICIAL journey to combat the drug menace in Punjab. Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court orders me to ‘assist the court in a case regarding smuggling of drugs into the prison houses of our beloved Punjab.

Reference CWP-2011 (O&M)
Tarlochan  Singh  vs.  State of Punjab and others

I, Shashi Kant, I.P.S. (retd.) have been informed by learned counsel Mr. Navkiran Singh, Advocate, that this honourable court has directed my to submit some points for consideration in the above said petition on the following;
1-      That drugs and narcotics are being made available in jails;
2-      Endeavour towards de-addiction to be made by the jail authorities;
3-      Medical treatment to be made available to inmates of the jail;
4-      Whether there is any misuse of availing of medical treatment outside the jail.
I, Shashi Kant, a 1977 batch (RR), officer borne on the strength of the Punjab cadre was posted as the Director General of Police, Prisons, Punjab, by the Punjab Government some times in the month of September  2011 and I remained on this post till I retired towards the end of June 1012. During my service, I had remained posted in the state of Punjab, in various capacities and in various wings including the field as also the head quarter postings, including that if deputy inspector general, inspector general and additional director general of police, intelligence, security and operations. I had also served in the government of India for a long time and served in the intelligence agencies and ministry of external affairs. I am a decorated officer who has been considered as a core intelligence officer as well, besides being known as an ‘activist’ officer.
My submissions below are based on my experience in the field, more notably as director general of police (prisons), as also as an intelligence officer. During the former tenure, I realized that prisons were no less than the dens of drug addicts besides the ticking time bomb of AIDS on account of rampant pervert sexual practices there in. I also became aware of the rampant and blatant corruption and serious drug menace prevailing in the jails and I started taking steps to control the same as also to create an awareness on the subject both within and outside in the civil society, which is equally plagued with the menace. Besides trying to identify and transferring the black sheep amongst the jail staff and taking action against them; we also took a number of measures to influence the addicts in the prisons. These included, holding regular meetings with them to create awareness, opening gyms and providing facilities for games,  holding the first ever,’ Prison Olympics’..inter-jail sports meets, opening libraries, holding de-addiction awareness drives, providing better education facilities including opening and encouraging basic computer literacy, cultural fests, trying to improve on whatever facilities in the prison houses. I started regular de-addiction drives, the most important being at Kapurthala prison house. I also persuaded the government to open de-addiction centers in all of the eight central prison houses and got requisite funds allocated with great difficulty. I am not sure of the present state of affairs with regard there to. I tried expanding the ‘open prison’ facility but that fell flat on account of the reluctance of the government.
And all this was further aggravated on account of rampant political interference.
Thus the submissions that I am making in the succeeding paragraphs are true to my knowledge and belief.
Point wise reply is as follows;

1-      Yes, drugs and narcotics are almost freely available in jails. THEY ARE NOT LIKELY TO BE ERADICATED EASILY TILL SUCH TIME THERE IS A THOROUGH CRACKDOWN ON THE DRUG SMUGGLERS AND THEIR HENCH MEN / ACCOMPLICES / PROTECTORS, OUT IN THE CIVIL SOCIETY AND THIS EVIL ERADICATED OR CONTROLLED. Availability of drugs in jails is on account of the nexus and connivance of the jail staff, drug addict prisoners, smugglers and even some politicians. In fact the drug trade is flourishing in Punjab on account of the nexus between the smugglers, some politicians and black sheep in the police force. I request this honourble and leaned court to take my submissions as a PIL on the entire gamut of the smuggling of drugs in Punjab or I shall submit a separate submission which  may kindly  be treated as a P.I.L. since this is a core issue in Punjab affecting the lives of more than 70 percent  (percentages vary from report to report) odd youth who are on the drugs and consequently on the verge of their deaths. The state of affairs in Punjab is no less than that an ongoing genocide of the youth by the drug smugglers and their henchmen / protectors, with the State and Central governments and their agencies being a mute spectators there to.
A very large number of these youth generally take to petty crime like chain and mobile phones snatching, petty thefts and in certain cases, even more heinous of the crimes like robbery and murder etc. to have access to money, which is then spent on drugs by them. Consequently more than half of the under trials in Punjab jails are estimated to be hard core drug addicts. And they need drugs, the cost and means, notwithstanding.
When I had taken over the charge of the Director General of Police, Prisons, Punjab, approx. 50 – 55% of prison inmates were estimated to be taking drugs in Punjab jails. Intact one prison inmate had told me in confidence that in each of the bigger jail of Punjab, daily consumption of heroin and smack etc. was about 1 kg. per day. Then Punjab had approx. 27-29 prison houses. Even if by the most ‘loose and relaxed’ estimates were applied, even then one could safely assume the daily consumption of narcotics to be about 10 kgs. a day, which, as per the prevailing international price would have been about 50 crores rupees a day. The situation, out there in the open society, is much worse. Shocking reports, on the issue have been appearing in the national and international print and electronic media. Shocked by this report, we had started encouraging sports, education and other cultural activities in the jails besides adopting stringent measures to control availability of drugs besides starting de-addiction measures. There were reasons to believe that we had achieved commendable success. However a recent report appearing in a prominent daily indicates that about 80% of prison inmates in Faridkot prison are addicts. This is a all time high estimate which indicates that the problem has become all the more serious. A photocopy of this new report is enclosed.
Not only drugs are smuggled in to the jails with impunity but latest smart phones are available on which some of the prisoners keep on ‘updating’ their status.
Drugs go into the jails by the following ways;

a-      Tossing over the prison walls. Most of the jails in Punjab are old. Their vicinity now, has a number of buildings and they are ideal locations for the tossing over the walls. Tossed drugs are collected either by the addicts themselves during the day since they are informed about the location there of through the mobile phones which are, unfortunately, generally available with the inmates. Alternately these drugs are collected by the jail staff, generally warders, themselves and then ‘sold’.  These ‘drugs’ normally are a mixture of psychotropic drugs and they are named differently. They are called GOLI NUMBER 10 AND 20 or with signs of CHAND OR SITARA etc. They are known by these names because of the code signs made or engraved on these tablets. These tablets are illegally manufactured almost all over the state and are almost a despicable ‘COTTAGE INDUSTRY’. They are also available freely over the medical counters all over the state. Thousand of unregistered chemists are alleged to be operating in each of the districts, right under the nose of the district administration.
Some new jails have since been constructed by the Punjab government and they are, as on date, well outside the city limits. Kapurthala and the Faridkot jails are the examples there of. But with the ever expanding population, even these jails will also get surrounded by residential and other buildings. All prison houses need to be shifted outside the cities, with higher periphery walls and a law stipulating that there will be a ‘no construction zone’ of a reasonable length, all around the prison periphery. It also needs to be ensured that the buildings of the jail houses are of good quality. Some of the newly constructed prisons houses in Punjab are of sub standard quality because of whatever reasons that be. Security posts, barbed wire fencing and adequate lighting also need to be provided in these corridors both inside and outside the outer periphery walls of the prison houses, as also over the prison walls and watch towers.

b-      Smuggling of drugs inside the jails is done in the following ways;

I-                    By the jail staff themselves directly or with their connivance.
II-                  Smuggled by the inmates returning from ‘peshi’. Though all ingenuity is used but the more popular ways are hiding them in the soles of the shoes and seams of the clothes they wear, hiding them in the hollow metallic ‘karas’ / bangles / ear rings etc that they wear. The popular drugs brought this way are smack and heroin.
III-                Hiding them in their ‘body cavities’. Condoms filled with smack or heroin and hidden in the rear body cavity is one of the very common way.
IV-               Hidden in foods and other items being brought by the ‘relatives’ and ‘friends’. Potatoes have a sealed back cavity, cabbage and other veggies have either drug hidden or dipped in a solution of drugs. Milk powder and the fresh milk sometimes have drugs mixed in them. Handles of the carry bags are often hollow and drugs put in there.
V-                 In short, it is difficult to enumerate all possible ways here. All sorts of ingenuity are employed. It is imagination run wild.
VI-               Shockingly, the malpractice by some of the doctors posted in the ‘prison hospitals’ is yet another open and rampant source of drug supply to the jail inmates.
Some of the ways to combat it all are;
i-                    Strict vigilance during the ‘transportation’ of under trials to and fro to the court houses and at the ‘bakshikhana’.  It is when the under trials ‘change shoes and clothes and acquire drugs which they hide all over. There is police connivance. More emphasis thus needs to be paid towards the provisions of the ‘video conferencing’ or peshi within the fore walls of the prison houses. All routine stuff can be done that way and only important cases need to be tried in the ‘court room’. Proper vigilance needs to be ensured even in such cases during the ‘transportation’ and at ‘bakshi khana’. The security there is loose and corruption rampant.
ii-                  Jail staff needs to be rotated / transferred often as a matter of rule. There should be refresher courses for them, better accommodation, better service conditions and better salary and ‘welfare measures’. It is so required because they are badly ignored and discriminated against. The satisfaction level among them is woefully low. They are ‘readymade material’ for any type of ‘wooing’. Just any one can purchase them at a throw away price. Their morale needs to be uplifted and dignity in self, restored.
iii-                Multilayered security needs to be put in place. The outer periphery needs to be patrolled by one type of force, may be Punjab police itself, incase C.R.P.F. is not available. The watch towers, flood lighting and inner patrolling needs to be the responsibility of the second type of force, may be any wing of the Armed Battalions, in case outside force is not available. The outer and the inner periphery need to have a corridor which needs to be patrolled. Frisking of under trials returning from ‘peshi needs to be done by a force from outside the state, like it is in Tihar Jail Delhi. They have a three layered security system manned by different forces, which has proved quite effective.
All the prison houses need to have trained dog squads to sniff narcotics as also explosives. X-ray baggage scanner, vapour sniffers and approved ‘body scanners should be used besides through manual frisking and ‘squatting’ for a few minutes as well.
All items , including the food items and other eatables meant either for the canteen or the prison kitchens, coming in the jail or even being taken outside should pass through these tests.
iv-                No outside stuff should be permitted. No food items or clothing or any other thing at all. All prisoners need to be given a unique identity number and smart cards which will have all information about them and their cases and also have their picture, thumb impression etc, giving all personal information issued to them. Their relatives can deposit the money with the jail department and obtain the receipt there for. The money will be debited to the account of the inmate and his smart card can also act like a debit card. The inmate can purchase anything from the prison canteen with the help of this debit cum smart card. These careens shall be run by inmates themselves on ‘no profit, no loss basis’. May be marginal profit can be earned which can be given to the inmates running such canteens or other welfare sets ups like bakery, furniture shops, knitting of blankets, ‘Khes’ and other such items which can have readymade demand in the market. This incentive will be good for inmates to show good behavior.
v-                  Though the under trials ideally need to be kept in separate in separate prison houses, but since it may not be possible immediately, they need to be kept in separate from the prisoners since it is basically they who smuggle the drugs inside the jails. One of the common modes operandi for the smugglers is to send persons inside the jails houses in cases under 107/151 Cr.P.C. they carry drugs inside and encourage under trials to hook on to the drugs to ‘escape depression’. The money for the drugs sole insides the jails is recovered from the relatives outside.
vi-                All prison houses should have proper ‘frequency jamming devices’ to ensure that no mobiles work in jail. The prison should have its own walkie talkie system (wireless communication system) which should work on a special frequency which is not allotted to any of the mobile phone companies.
vii-              The doctors and staff of unblemished integrity should be posted in the prison hospitals and there should be proper accounting of the medicines, particularly psychotropic drugs. The practice to post only unwanted doctors in the prison houses, by the government, should be done away with. The hospitals remain one of the ‘problem zones’ inside the jails since they become the centers of the ‘over the counter’ sale and supply of psychotropic drugs in the jails.
viii-            Lastly and most importantly, the jail superintendent, the commandants of the forces deployed and also the higher officials of the jail department should be held personally responsible in case any narcotics reach the prison houses. ACCOUNTABILITY IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE DETERRENCE.

2-      Hardly any de-addiction facility, worth its name exists in any of the jails in Punjab. I doubt if any serious thought has ever been given to it.
At the outset I will admit that de-addiction is a complicated word as also a process and I am not an expert on it. Ideally it some prominent psychiatrist or other medical person can better explain it all. However, based on my experience, discussions with the leading psychiatrists as also officials of the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) and other experts, I will submit as follows in simple language;
De-addiction is a complicated process. When any fresh inmate enters the prison house, he needs to be examined by a board of doctors, instead of giving symptomatic treatment to the inmate. The board ideally should have an expert on internal medicine, a psychologist, a psychiatrist and a radiologist to assist them. The board can correctly determine the gravity of the problem and record and study the magnitude of the problem with which the inmate is suffering. Based on their estimate, they prescribe suitable medication as also decide the mode of de-addiction. Normally they prescribe BUPRENORPHINE, an OST. The experts decide the dosage and the frequency there of. This medicine is normally in the shape of a tablet. During my tenure as the D.G.P., Prisons, I had extensively interacted with the UNODC, which along with N.A.C.O. had come to our rescue in the aftermath of the Kapurthala Jail violence of October 2012.
In fact this was the incident which had shaken my conscience very badly when I had seen the rampage by the drug addicts in the said jail, playing with live and burning gas cylinders after having consumed all sorts of drugs looted from the ten bedded de-addiction center set up in the prison itself. That had also rampaged and burnt down the prison as such and including the ‘general’ thirty odd bedded hospital located there in. they had looted this general hospital as well and consumed whatever drugs they could lay their hands on. As a consequence, the next morning, about three hundred inmates had fallen gravely ill because of ‘withdrawal symptoms’. They could have died, but for the timely intervention of the UNODC, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, South East Asia chapter, the NACO (National Aids Control Organization) and the personal good offices of the then Principal Secretary Health, Govt. of Punjab. Buprenorphine, the OST, which is used for de-addiction, is also used by N.A.C.O. for its anti AIDS operations. They made available about several thousand of doses and the lives of these three hundred inmates suffering from withdrawal symptoms, could be saved.
The other prescribed OST is the Methadone. With the help of the UNODC and the NACO, this therapy was got started in the Bhatinda and the Kapurthala civil hospitals.
Thus, in short, the steps involved in the de-addiction, are;

a-      Initial examination of the fresh inmate by a board of doctors including specialists, at least in internal medicines, a psychologist and a psychiatrist. They estimate and prescribe correct OST or other medication, as deemed fit.
b-      Regular dispensing of each and every dose under their own supervision and ensuring that it is consumed. Often inmates are known to have got medicines of higher dose sanctioned and then sharing it with others for exchange of money or other gratification. Doctors are supposed to ensure that the in addict gulps down the medicine in his presence. Often the cases of some addicts putting this on thin pieces of cellophane placed on their tongue have come to notice. They get the medicine put on that and then the medicine is known to have been shared from tongue to tongue and from mouth to mouth, one addict to the other.
c-      The addicts are to be monitored and observed very closely and the doses of the medicines regulated accordingly.
d-      Along with the medication, counseling has to be started and it has to increase and become stronger with the reduction in the medicinal doses. The family of the addict has also to be involved and they have also to be counseled.
e-      When the addict inmate is released or acquitted, then the counseling and the treatment has to be taken over by the notified center located out there in the open society.
f-       Thus it is a long, ongoing and complicated process. No such scientific centers exist in any of the Punjab jails or even in the civil society.
g-      At least thirteen de addiction centers being operated by the Punjab Aids Control Society exist in Punjab. Though they do not really deal with de-addiction, as such, but my study indicates that not even one of them is been running properly. There is a need for close monitoring and ensuring that opioid substitutes do not get pilfered out and sold off in the open society.
h-      If it is not possible for the Punjab government to open de-addiction centers in each and every jail, then at least some of the bigger jail houses can be notified as de addiction centers with corresponding de- addiction and counseling centers operating in these districts. Proper liaison and contact needs to be ensured between them all.
i-        The state of affairs in the Punjab prisons, both on the issue of ‘drug supply’ and de-addiction both in the prison houses and out there in the open society needs to be monitored by the HIGHER JUDICARY’ very closely.
j-        Lastly a word about the need for a vigilant criminal justice system. People convicted of minor drug crimes need to be sentenced to rehabilitation centers instead of the prisons. There should be ways to address an alternative sentence in a drug possession or drug user’s case. Criminal justice system should be willing to explore out of the box methods primarily because of the reason that very often THE N.D.P.S. cases are planted. They are rarely genuine. Either these cases are planted to “fix” some political opponent or to ensure that the “BIGGER FISH” go scot free and minor couriers are implicated. IT IS SURPRISING THAT THOUGH A LARGE NUMBER OF PEDDELARS AND COURRIERS HAVE BEEN ARRESTED FROM TIME TO TIME BUT THE “BIG FISH” REMAIN FREE AND THE DRUG SNUGGLINGA ASL ALSO THE DRUG ABUSE GOES ON UNABATED.

3-      Medical treatment being made available to the inmates needs to be improved upon. Though most of the prison houses have their own set ups which are called ‘prison hospitals’, but hardly any one of them is worth its name. At some of the places, the buildings are not only ramshackle but probably also ‘unsafe’ for human dwelling. Hardly any good and competent doctor is posted there. Those who are posted are on account of political or ‘financial’ considerations. They are frustrated and not willing. Most of the hospitals do not have all the required medicines either. Condition of hospital equipment is deplorable.
One example which can be mentioned here is that of the Central Prison at Ludhiana. One of the prison inmates, a prominent doctor, in his own right, had literally been running the hospital for years and even conduction minor surgeries. No doubt this doctor prisoner, a lifer, need to be commended upon and shown some mercy by this Honourable Court, but at the same time the reflection that it has on the doctors and paramedics, also needs to be taken notice of.
I am told that at Ropar as well. The doctor rarely visits the prison hospital and the paramedic posted there, runs the hospital with the help of some of the ‘dedicated’ inmates. This deplorable condition exists at a number of places.
It needs to be ensured that the hospitals are located in healthy, well ventilated buildings, that they have required strengthen of willing, dedicated and competent staff, that they have all required medicines and other equipment and lastly, and most importantly, that they are prescribing correct medicines to the correct patient instead of selling the same, particularly psychotropic medicines, over the counter.
4-      Yes, there is rampant misuse of the facility of availing of medical treatment outside the jails. It is a well oiled mechanism for corruption and nepotism at the behest of the politicians, doctors and the prison officials, and in that order.
        (Shashi Kant)
         #1258, Sector 18-C



could not update my blog for long.
a lot has happened in the mean time.
let me put all that here on the blog for everyone's information.
god bless