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Looking back 2023: Gurdaspur continues to grapple with drug abuse, drone seizure

Pakistan’s insatiable fetish for pushing in drones carrying payloads of narcotics into Dorangla, the significant increase in the use of heroin among the youth, the ascendency of two Congress leaders on the political firmament of the state, the unbridled powers given by AAP to its halqa Incharges and the lackadaisical approach of MP Sunny Deol to the affairs of his constituency remained the talking points in 2023.

The year showed a marked shift in the dynamics of dope use. Plant based drugs like opium and poppy-were replaced by heroin. The use of this drug is considered to be “classy and chic” by the youth. This swing is because of the comparatively easy availability of the white powder, courtesy Pakistani drones. BSF officers say their counterparts, Pakistani Rangers, have established new pickets which are barely a stone’s throw from Dorangla block. All drone flights are remote-controlled from these pickets.

BSF had installed an anti-drone device on a trial basis near the border. The mechanism neutralised the flying machines and Dorangla heaved a sigh of relief. The moment the device was dismantled, the drones again started flying here, there and everywhere.

Officers admit that for every one kg of heroin they confiscate, at least five to 10 kg is pushed into Gurdaspur, unabated and unchecked. A major part of the drug is consumed in this district itself before the shipment moves into Delhi, Goa and Mumbai. Needless to say, heroin remains the No. 1 talking point because of the misery and wretchedness it is causing to the families of the addicts. So easy has it become to procure heroin that Indian smugglers just have to send a message through social media sites to their Pakistani contacts. Lo and behold, a drone appears, drops the consignment and flies away. The packets are later collected by smugglers while payment to the Pakistani smugglers is made through hawala.

On the political firmament, the ascendency of two Gurdaspur-based politicians, both belonging to dyed-in-the-wool Congress families, was much talked about. Leader of Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa regularly took up matters of public concern in the Vidhan Sabha. When the supply of Buprenorphine, a drug given to addicts to control withdrawal symptoms, was suddenly stopped to the Red Cross de-addiction centre, Bajwa was the first to protest. His party men, and even his detractors, are seeing him as CM material for the political sagacity he carries. The stature of former Deputy CM Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, too, has risen manifold following his appointment as the party’s observer for the Rajasthan elections. The brashness and the displeasing assertiveness of the yore have been replaced with stability and calm. The shifting of the old bus stand to its new address was welcomed by all and sundry. The opening of the Tibri road railway underpass, too, is aimed at decongesting the city of its traffic woes.

MP, Sunny Deol finally realized that politics was not his cup of tea. He did not make even a single trip to his constituency this year.

Highs

  • Kejriwal and CM Mann announced Rs 1,854 crore developmental works
  • Strict vigil by police, BSF near wire-fencing kept check on intrusion, drugs
  • Sugarcane farmers elated after mills’ crushing capacity increased

Lows

  • Despite best efforts, flights of Pakistani drones carrying heroin continue
  • Medical college & hospital in Gurdaspur remains a distant dream
  • Sugarcane research institute set up in Kalanaur remains a non-starter
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