RAWALPINDI: The Punjab government has decided to launch secret monitoring and covert intelligence-based operations in selected educational institutions in the province for gathering information about the supply of drugs which police claim are easily available in these institutions’ hostels and cafeterias.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Narcotics Control Committee which has been constituted by the Punjab chief minister.
The meeting was convened by the provincial minister for higher education and attended by the minister for excise, taxation and narcotics control Punjab, the additional inspector general of police (operations), the director general of Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) Punjab, the director of the directorate of schools and a representative of the secretary of the education department.
The minister for higher education informed the committee that use of drugs was on the rise in educational institutions due to easy availability of drugs.
The excise minister said departments under his ministry were facing manpower shortage and other logistic problems due to which they could not take effective actions against drug peddlers.
The additional inspector general of police informed the meeting that nearly 25,000 drug-related cases had been registered with the Punjab police so far this year. He said the administrations of educational institutions, especially private colleges and universities, could play a vital role in curbing the menace of drugs. He said drugs were easily available in hostels and cafeterias of many educational institutions in the province. He said the police could not enter premises of educational institutions due to their sanctity.
The AIG operation revealed that private educational institutions had their own security staff. But, he claimed, they try to hush up the matter whenever it comes to light.
The secretary of higher education department stressed the need for launching awareness campaign in schools, colleges and universities. He urged the excise taxation and narcotics control department to seek the help of UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime).
The secretary of the excise taxation and narcotics control department said students of elite institutions were the main target of drug peddlers. He said instead of taking action against students steps should be taken against drug peddlers.
The additional secretary of school and education department said an action plan had already been implemented in coordination with the Higher Education Department. Under the plan, drugs have been classified into two types — soft and hard.
He said the plan had been implemented in 10,000 schools, over 700 colleges, and 52 universities. As many as 11,000 focal persons have been nominated for launching awareness campaigns. No case was reported in the public school for a long time as special surveillance committees are functioning in public schools.
The School Education Department believed that elite educational institutions were target of drug peddlers, he added.
The ANF deputy director said that the covert surveillance operations would be launched in educational institutions for gathering information about activities of drug peddlers.
The secretary of excise and taxation was of the view that drugs were being sold in all private educational institutions.
The committee suggested making the sale of drugs in and around educational campuses a non-bailable offence.
The excise, taxation and narcotics control department was urged to re-examine the existing legal framework and to give its proposal to all departments concerned for their input.
Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2019